Random plot thoughts were dustballing around in my mind today and I realised that, in Corpus, I’ve written another sad ending. This seems to be a trademark of mine – if I end a story without TPK then I’m doing well. And yet I prefer happy endings when I’m reading other people’s work. I prefer the closure, and the good stuff happening to characters I care about so I can leave them on the final page with a sense that they’ll be okay. So I thought I’d try writing an alternative ending for Corpus which is happy. Suffice to say, it did not go well. It was awkward, saccharine, self-indulgent garbage. And I think I know why.
Do we write for ourselves or for our audience? Well, a little bit of both really but it has to start with the writer. You must believe in your story, feel it, have it as an instinct before you submit it to writing techniques and plot building. Without that belief there’s no spark, and the spark is what the audience connects with. If you’re writing by numbers because you think that’s what the audience likes, but it isn’t what your own instincts are telling you, the results lack fire. They’re just words on a page.
Out of thee or me, the answer has to be me. And that means sad endings. So I’d just like to say to all those dead or heart-broken characters littering my literary past, I’m sorry. I’m sorry that your loves went unrequited or ended in tragedy; I’m sorry that you died in pain, alone and despairing; I’m sorry that you began in Disney Technicolour and ended in Tim Burtonesque darkness.