Even Roses grow in Sh*t (Warning–book rant) *Swearing*

Flowers 447  I can be quite soppy. I know, right? Hard to believe. I can, and more often lately than previously. I love a happy ending just as much as the next girl, but when it comes to books, getting there is half the fun. Here is a truth that I wish more authors would recognise when writing their stories.

Even Roses Grow in Shit.

What does this have to do with the price of tuna in a Nevada brothel? I shall tell you.

Authors, authors, authors. You go to all the work to create characters that make us feel things. You give them histories, families, trouble along the way. You ensure that their story is interesting enough to get the reader involved and keep them there. Then you go and fuck it all up by making sure that everyone at the end of the book has not the slightest care in the world and all involved are happy and trouble free.

Really?

I’m not much of a soap opera fan. Never have been, but my mum was. I cannot count the number of times that I watched a character who was long dead suddenly reappear to the chirping of birds and the playing of harps. Okay, it is fiction. I get that. I really do understand that fiction does not have to fully encompass reality in all forms. Still, I find it pointless to read a book where everyone struggles, has events they must overcome that test their strengths and the patience of the reader and then by the last chapter everything is forgiven, the characters are squeaky clean as a whistle and everyone lives happily ever after.

Give me some grey area. Make it believable and give me a reason to remember the end of the book. Could it be that a couple of the characters are physically maimed or emotionally scarred by the end of the book but you are proud of them for not giving up? Would it be possible for the woman who has been beaten, abandoned on the side of the road and left for dead to actually take her knowledge and help others at the end of the story instead of meeting Mr. Right and just forgetting that anything ever happened to her?

Now, I am not saying there cannot be happy endings, nor that there should not be some happiness involved. What I am saying is that it is impossible for my mind to conceive that EVERY character and EVERY situation in any group of characters can all turn out 100% sunshine and daisies. Show me that the characters have learned to adapt to their challenges and see the bright side, great. Show me that they are ignoring everything that sucks in their life for the benefit of the reader? Thumbs down. I shall annihilate you in my review.

I am begging you, authors. If you talk about a gun in the first chapter of your book, describing it in vivid detail, make sure you actually fire the bloody thing before the last damned chapter. Why even mention it if it will have no bearing on the story at the end of the book?

Red fish are pretty and I really like pearls.

See.

All the intense drama, well written action scenes and things that make me boo hoo in the middle of the story can be erased by your idiotic fairytale endings. Keep your story moving on even ground. There is no way I am going to believe that every person in the story had serious issues until the last page when magically life became perfect.

If the character is an Arsehole at the beginning, make them a bit less of an arsehole at the end. Don’t pretend that your reader doesn’t remember chapter one.

Insult to injury:

Forget what you wrote about your own character by the end of the book. It happens, trust me. Please ensure that if you said your character had never been outside the US earlier in the book that they do not recall going to Europe as a child somewhere in a later chapter, unless this is a discovery they just made.

This is not just an indie book curse. Authors.  Opinions?

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56 thoughts on “Even Roses grow in Sh*t (Warning–book rant) *Swearing*

  1. Absolutely! Perfect endings are bad enough, but when nothing has changed in any significant way from the beginning of the story, THAT’S the worst. As you said, if they’re going to be happy, at least let them have changed, grown, accomplished SOMETHING.

    I try not to let my characters have happily ever after. Life is so much more than that.

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  2. Oh! I am tired of the bright endings as well because they make me blind by the intensity of their lovey-dovey rays.
    I like to read an ending which can be hopeful but not so cheesy that I would have to get my cholesterol checked the next day.
    I have a good example of a book with a hopeful ending which was completely shredded to bits in the movie adaptation. Silver Linings Playbook is a really good book; its ending is what empowers it but in case of the movie, I was left aghast by the way the things turned out to be in the end.
    I agree with you in things you talked about in this post to a certain extent. Thanks for sharing.

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  3. I agree. A happy ending should be worked toward and not handed out like participation award. As a reader, I love the struggle and for the ending to make sense. I know it’s a movie, but Reign of Fire always annoyed me in the final battle. All the caution of the humans and aggressive fire-breathing of the dragons was ignored. No explanation given.
    As an author, I know my ending has to suit the characters. I need them to earn their reward or die trying. After all, what’s the point of a story if it’s going to be a squeaky clean, perfect ending no matter what?

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  4. I really have to agree. Too many times I have started a book and in the end ask myself “what was the author thinking?” You said some important stuff here and every author should take note. One question. Tuna in a Nevada Brothel?” I was not aware any had a snack bar, do they? 🙂

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  5. I absolutely agree but then again, I’m sort of infamous for writing “grey” endings. I’ve even had a few beta readers recently ask me to adjust my WIP and add some kind of an epilogue where the main character gets his happy ending. While I understand that there are a lot of people out there who like HEAs, I prefer to write about real life and in real life there is no pot of gold and we take what we can get. That’s what I’ve experienced and those are the kinds of experiences I connect with most while reading.

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    • I completely agree. When I finish a book I want that reward of knowing the events could lead to other things in the life of the character. Just riding off into the sunset makes me feel like all previous events were just a waste of time.

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  6. Thank you so much for this post Ionia. I’ve just finished my first draft and some of my characters had to face the reality that it’s a hard knock life. I wondered if I’d been too callous with some of them but the reality is that there are consequences to actions and some of my characters had to learn that. This post and its comments have reassured me… thanks for that!

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  7. Well, you should be happy with the ending of Cannibal Hearts, then, (I suspect that most readers won’t be, but I think it’s honest.)

    Also, did you ever read William Goldman’s “Boys And Girls Together”? It looks like it’s back in print, and you may be able to find it at a local library. After reading your reviews for a while now, I think it’s a book that you’d appreciate. (It’s a hard book to actually like, but the technique is impressive.)

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  8. And hence the title of my ever evolving story…This Is Not A Harlequin Romance.,. no one lives happily ever after in my story I can guarantee that

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  9. I don’t oppose slightly unhappy endings, but I SWEAR I HATE City Of Angels for the WORST unhappy ending ever!! I mean, it wasn’t a rosy one – angel gives up his wings and immortality, gal still wants to play God – but REALLY? GAH!!

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  10. For me it’s all about consistency. If the book keeps the possibility open throughout that there might be a happy ending and that all might be forgotten, good enough. But if it all abruptly ends with a ‘Fuck it, I love you anyway. What were we talking about?’ that’s when the book goes flying out the window.

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  11. Half the characters shall die off!!!! 😀

    rant away lovey because I completely agree. I would never read a book if I knew everything would have a calm pond through it. Make some ripples or skip a damn rock.

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  12. I agree with you – I think that dropping a happy ending on any book – or movie – for the sake of giving it the popular ending is unsatisfactory. I agree with the fact that a story must in some way substantiate the ending – it should not feel contrived. I believe a reader can ‘see through’ an ending that was slapped together for the sake of wrapping up the story with a happy ending or succumbing to the pressure of being ‘encouraged to write a happy ending. I believe a happy ending can be beautiful and real – if that is the ending it should truly ‘feel’.

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  13. I agree. I need a book to be satisfying all the way through – the end can be a great big “noooooooo!” so long as the story is impressive enough to make me feel that gutted reaction (unless it’s city of angels, then it can just jump right off a cliff and die). I want to feel like the end of the book isn’t the end of the story. People who suddenly have ‘happily ever after’ dumped in their laps without earning it have nowhere else to go, and that makes for a very unsatisfactory (for me) reading experience.

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  14. I agree entirely but I’m probably biased…I’m not sure I’d ever be able to write a totally happy ending to anything…I can have a redemptive arc or two in a story, but life is life and I’m a serious little, dark-toned writer myself, LOL! 🙂

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  15. I think my book had a satisfying ending, but I recently noted that five people died in my book, so I do not think it was a happy book. That made for a lot of suspense and tension. I was sort of disappointed that the true story had so much sadness, that I had to have something happen at the end that would leave a sense of hope for the future.

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  16. The satisfying ending thing… I hope you will be up to reading the fiction work creeping its way into indie publication. I’ll give you a good dose of characters so spun they can barely tell whether the catalyst of the tale, Ansastasia’s Finger, has improved or ruined their would-have-been lives. I think I even discuss that a bit in the first few pages, about not writing a “normal” storyline. Lovin’ your new artwork on the header.
    Later…

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  17. I don’t like overly happy endings. For the exact reasons you’ve outlined. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever given my characters a perfectly happy ending. The happiest ending I have written still involves the characters mourning the death of a good friend. People don’t go through crap and come out smiling and whole. Parts of them break, and my favourite stories are the ones that show that.

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