Why do we think we need a happy ending for every story? Culturally, Americans seem to be very sensitive. In old fairy tales from other countries, things didn’t always turn out all sunshine and rainbows. Rumpelstiltskin exploded. Cinderella’s stepsisters cut off part of their feet and had their eyes eaten by birds. There was some dark and creepy stuff. Why can’t we handle that in America? The protagonist always has to live and the antagonist always has to die or turn good. It’s just unrealistic.
If I had a say in the way people’s stories were published, I would often change things to make the readers less comfortable. Something needs to happen to make that reader put the book down and stare at the wall for an hour. Joey Tribbiani from Friends needs to get so mad at what he’s reading he feels he has to put the whole book in the freezer. Books need to be less predictable. In our special snowflake season in America, everyone believes that everything needs to go their way all of the time and nothing should step on anyone else’s toes.
Let’s just say that the snowflakes get their way. Everyone in the world has what they want. Jen wants to go out with Brad. Brad wants to go out with Karen. There are two unhealthy relationships. Jack wants to be captain of the football team. Stacie also wants to be captain of the football team. So does Jerry. So does Alicia. Sierra wants her boyfriend to get hit by a bus. Mary wants her daughter to stop talking forever. Every little thing that everyone wants comes to be and the world is in chaos! Money has no value, cities are overcrowded, nobody has legitimate relationships, and lots of people have been murdered.
God gave people free will to make their own choices, but sometimes what they want isn’t possible based on what they can do without His help. In order to get God’s help to get what they want, a person needs to first figure out what God wants for them. What He knows would be best and most beneficial. He doesn’t do things out of spite or because He thinks they’re funny. When something happens to someone that they didn’t want, there is still a 100% chance that they will be able to handle it. God doesn’t throw us things that He can’t help us get through. People today are just stuck in the mindset of instant gratification and they want to be satisfied.
I know that’s a big step from stories having happy endings, but what I’m trying to point out is that without God, a happy ending is unrealistic (And in most of this literature the characters are, if you’ll pardon my generalization, not relying on God). Bad things happen to everyone. I’m not saying that good things don’t ever happen. Sometimes the guy does get the girl, but I promise their relationship isn’t flawless. The world can be saved but someone else is still going to break the law in the next episode. Things aren’t fixed permanently and I think that is where the stories are. Don’t settle for a simple ending when you have the power to make the reader think. To question everything that had ever happened in their lives. Drive them crazy. Sometimes people like to be unsettled. If they didn’t, horror movies would never make money. David Lynch wouldn’t have become noteworthy. Inception would never have been filmed! Take it from the success of those things that writing something less than resolved is not the equivalent of writing something that no one will ever want to read.