After reading, Openly Straight, by Bill Konigsberg, a few weeks ago I saw in many people’s reviews on goodreads lots of different message: “If you don’t like ambiguous endings you won’t like this book.” It got me thinking about all the different kinds of endings there are and what kind of endings I like.
My initial brainstorm gave me three options for types of endings: happy, sad, and ambiguous. After looking through my bookshelf and trying to characterize all the books on my shelves I added ambiguous/happy and ambiguous/sad as categories, because sometimes a book can end ambiguously but leave the reader with a feeling that things are going to be okay or not.
While there are books I like that fit into each of my five categories, and while I did really like Openly Straight, I think of myself as liking happy endings best of all. One of my favorite things about romance novels, chick-lit, and teen romances is the covenant to end stories happily. Something about knowing a happy ending is coming helps me invest in the characters. I don’t mind a cliff hanger in the middle of series, but I like knowing it is all going to work out okay in the end.
Even when books end sadly, I do like knowing what happens. I love love love epilogues, even the one at the end of Harry Potter. It makes me happy having everything wrapped up. What’s funny, and perhaps unfair, is that when it comes to my writing so far I am more in favor of giving my characters more open-ended, ambiguous endings. So maybe I need to think about that.
Do you have a preference when it comes to your endings? If you are a writer, do you give your characters a different kind of ending than the kind you like to read?