A to Z 2017: Happy Ending

My A-Z Blogging theme is to cover 26 touch-me-not categories of fiction writing. These are frequently the trouble spots which can be useful components of the story if handled properly, but when rushed through, can cause all kinds of trouble. While the genre is fantasy, the tips can apply to anything, from romance to literary fiction.


While exploring the ruins of an old castle, Mordekai and his sister Monique accidentally destroy an old tower only to find themselves in a different place, or time, entirely. Then a giant goat crashes through the wall and carries Mordekai off, leaving Monique with the unpredictable Princess Mural. After a variety of adventures, they’re reunited in the courtyard of the villains castle. They take refuge in a stable along one wall and hold off the goat forces until Mural and Mordekai are able to sing a duet and awaken their dragon allies to come to their rescue.

Y: Happy Ending

Suddenly, Mordekai remembered something. Excusing himself, he stepped away from Mural and crossed the courtyard to try to find the spot where Brisbane had died. We may have had victory, but only because of him. He wouldn’t have been able to sing a thing if that crossbow bolt had found its target.

But even as he retraced his steps, he could find it. He’d been in such a panic, he couldn’t remember the exact place, and all the stones looked familiar now that the tell-tale fuzzy black and yellow body, with a lingering aura of light around it, was gone. Trampled, no doubt.

He sank to his knees in frustration. He was certain Brisbane had been around there, and he couldn’t help but hope that maybe, just maybe their song could’ve awoken more than dragons.

Then he felt a hand on his shoulder. Her hand. And then her voice. “In battle, some will fall. Some will die, and we cannot bring them back.”

“I know.” He knew what death was like. His own parents had died. “But I couldn’t help…” He turned to look up at her. “But how did you know?”

“The night before we were captured, I dreamed of faithful Brisbane. He told me of what had transpired and that he could no longer protect you. ‘Tis why I let the great goat bring us here. I could not bear the thought of your facing danger on my behalf alone.”

He smiled. “Isn’t that what knights do?”

For a moment, she was silent. Then, she softly answered. “Perhaps I was just selfish. I did not want to face the future without you.”


Even when all goes well, it’s important to not make your happy ending too sticky-sweet…especially if it cost the heroes something. The joy should be balanced. There can be moments of euphoria, but it should be followed by reality. Remembrances. Recollections. A touch of bittersweet. Otherwise, the story will come off as entirely unbelievable.

And having a mixed ending will probably help some readers enjoy the story more. Many people complain about Happily-Ever-After endings because their too perfect. Too ideal. They suggest a reality we can never have (at least not on earth as we know it), and while they may make for good escapism, they don’t help us really live in someone else’s shoes and see things as they see things.


Until the next letter,



Copyright 2017 Andrea Lundgren

Photo courtesy of gratisography

3 thoughts on “A to Z 2017: Happy Ending

  1. I think the effectiveness of the ‘happily ever after’ ending depends a lot on the kind of story. If it’s an adult story, most definetly it needs to be tempered. I’ll confess I have a penchant for stories that end on a positive note, but that’s all I expect, a positive note, not a ‘happily ever after’.

    But in other situations, epsecially for younger readers, the ‘happily ever after’ might be just what’s needed.

    The Old Shelter – 1940s Film Noir


    1. Good point! It can vary greatly based on your audience and genre, too. I think romance readers would be pretty unhappy if they didn’t get the romantic happy ending by the end.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.