I love a good tragedy.
I love a good tragedy not because I need stories to always end in angst and destruction and I’m allergic to happiness, but because sometimes life feels tragic. I actually do love happy stories with happy endings, and I would say most of the books I read have mostly happy endings, even if there are currents of bittersweet underneath it all(this seems to be the popular ending for science fiction and fantasy books, which makes sense). Sometimes, all I want is an adorable contemporary romance with banter and fluff and feelings(thank you, Kasie West books, for fulfilling that need in my life).
Sometimes, though, nothing else but a tragedy will do. Out of all the readers I know online and in real life, I think most would prefer a happy ending for a story than a sad one. And while I couldn’t read only tragedies and nothing but, sometimes I just need a story that doesn’t have a happily ever after.
And I think the most important reason is because sometimes I need heroes to fail. I need them to fail at saving the world, or finding their love requited, or picking up the pieces that have been scattered along the way. I *need* stories that aren’t afraid to have their heroes fail, and be no lest the hero of the story for it, because sometimes I fail too, in the story of my life. I think that’s why I love a good tragedy from time to time–I can relate to it, on some level, even if my tragedies of life aren’t as dire as the consequences a story might tell. I think that might be too why some people shy away from tragedies at the same time.
That being said, I think there are certain ways sad endings can be written to feel authentic and then other ways when they just feel gimmicky. For example, having the love interest die in a car crash at the end of the book after the “happily ever after” moment? I don’t think I would like a sad ending like that very much. I prefer tragic and sad endings when they come around as a result of the character’s actions, and not simply as a way to shock the reader into a case of mood whiplash.
Stories and fiction have always been about a lot of things to me, but I think when I read(or watch or listen) to a story, I’m mostly interested in the consequences, and that’s what a good sad ending is to me–a potential consequence of an action(even if it’s not directly the consequences of the main character’s actions). A well-written tragic ending often forces the consequences of multiple actions and multiple characters to come to some sort of culmination, and in a well-written sad ending, there’s this moment of utter something, whatever that something is. Everything gets stripped away and it’s often the result of a yarn ball of cause-and-effect.
Let’s chat: How do you feel about tragic/sad endings? Hate them? Love them? Tolerate them? Are there certain sad endings you can’t stand(the “gimmicky” ones?