Tough to Please

Hello Internet!

I’ve been thinking a bit about a tough part about making a story that I’ve discovered as a reader. You want to have characters that the readers care about, but you also sometimes have to have bad things happen to the characters which will upset your readers if the care about them.

For instance, we (the readers) start getting to know the protagonist or protagonists. If the author does his or her job right, we want good things to happen to them, unless they are complete anti-heroes, then we want good things to happen to the antagonist. We want people to like them. We want them to save everyone and themselves. We want them to get the girl (or the guy). However, if they accomplish all these things without any problems, we don’t believe it. It’s too good to be true. If there are some setbacks, it keeps us a bit more entertained but if the ultimate goal is still achieved we have the same problem. After several stories like this we start thinking “These are totally predictable. Can’t I read a story that doesn’t have a completely happy ending?”

Then, lo and behold, we find a story that ends like this and we have mixed feelings. All the other characters hate the protagonist. The evil dictator still rules the world with no possibility for a sequel. The lover dies or marries someone else. So while a part of us likes the fact that we got a more realistic ending, another part of us thinks “Did it have to happen to a character I liked?” The trouble is, if we didn’t like or at least didn’t care about the characters we never would have read to the end in the first place.

I’m honestly not sure what the balancing point is, except to say that something¬†good must happen in the ending of the story, something that says “Even though the protagonists didn’t get a single thing they wanted, it is all okay, because although they wouldn’t have thought so at the beginning of this story things are on the whole better, even if they can’t see exactly how.” In other words, we have to have faith or see the characters have faith that things will work out in the long run.

Till next time,

Goodbye Internet!