February 6, 2014

Endings, or a Failure of Imagination

Happy Endings, by Terry Jackson (via)

I’ve been thinking about endings.  The endings of stories are the payoffs.  This is where the author says, “Hey, this is how it really is” or “This is how it should be.” 

You can see authors trying to find a new way for society to be, trying to imagine a world that is better.  Or you can see them failing, them seeing no way out. 

And it says something about me that I tend to write at least ambivalent endings, if not tragedies.  I have a hard time with happy endings.  They often seem contrived.  Is that a failure of imagination on my part?  Me, who has long considered herself an optimist?

One thing is for sure.  The author needs to push against her or his own proclivities and against received plot lines and against society’s expectations.  It all depends on the internal logic of the story, but I think authors have an imaginative duty to lead the way, to try to imagine a different ending. 

That’s the only way we as a society can change.

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