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Young Writers Society
How do people feel about 'bad' endings...
Sun Feb 19, 2012 10:57 am
Not 'bad' endings in that they're not well written endings, but endings in which the evil people actually win?
I've noticed that books, films, tv shows, practically anything worth watching has the good guys win even when the evil guys have the best powers ever or have something over the good guys, the good guys still win. This sort of Disney induced happiness, this fake 'good will prevail' irritates me at times.
So...what I've done is, I've started a trilogy in which I've set the evil guys to win. One of my friends, once I told them about the idea, said that no one wants to read an evil ending, that people want good to win, to feel better about themselves, and I guess it makes common sense?
But, in horror movies, the evil force near enough always wins. Freddy Krueger (think I've spelt that wrong) manages to kill everyone. Jason X does too. There's loads of horror films where good fails and dies.
So that's my question. How do you people of YWS feel about a sci-fi novel in which the evil guys win and the Earth may just blow up and the entire human race just...dies?
Mon Feb 20, 2012 1:56 am
Well in my experiences, Stories/Movies/Novels where the Villain ends up winning is sort of like a train wreck. You just can't look away, although you want to. Just like you've mentioned, horror films.
Now about your plot, the only issue I could see is, continuation. I personally ALWAYS have the need to keep my endings open, meaning something else can easily confront my heros/villains in the future. So if Earth just, blew up, why am I still reading it? The story is essentially over for me.
Most Sci-Fi writers keep Humans in their stories to anchor the reader to realism. It could be Fantasy with Orcs and Trolls, but the Human Element gives something familiar and lets us believe it more. To become immersed into the story. Removing the Human Element is a gamble, as your characters will need to act Human enough to keep readers interested. Imagine reading a story, written by Master Yoda from Star Wars. His speech patterns are mixed and alien in meaning, they take time to decipher for most people.
But then again, these issues only exist if you want to continue the series longer.
Regarding the Villains winning, this makes for some of the best stories. Just make sure the "Lawful/Good" force in the story has some fighting chance. Nobody likes to read a genocide. (Aside for historical reference.)
-A Cold Summer-
Thu Feb 23, 2012 3:43 am
I think it depends on your purpose. Horror movies are designed to scar, so leaving the bad guy still lurking out there has a good effect. Tragedy novels are designed to break hearts, and so having the main character die three seconds before reaching the holy grail works.
Much of the time though you're writing for entertainment, or the journey. You've got a message or a meaning. I personally prefer novels that have a good message, like hope being greater than might, and good triumphing over evil.
Teenagers tend to like things that make them feel empowered, hence the popularity of immortality in vampirism, super powers, child spies, dragonlords and the likes. I find that in this case letting the bad guy win is kind of like handing your reader over to them. The reader places trust in the writer, and by letting them lose you're betraying them.
Words are pale shadows of forgotten names. As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest hearts.
— Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind
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