Novel Endings

From the reading of done in my erm…twenty? years of life I’ve noticed there are generally two types of endings in novels.  Let’s call them “FC” and “PC”.

“FC” referring to ‘full circle’ endings where everything (I MEAN EVERYTHING) is wrapped up nicely with a little pink bow on top and “PC” referring to ‘personal conclusions’ or ‘drawing your conclusion’ where the ending is a bit open ended and the characters live on in fictional infamy.

Here’s my question: Which do you prefer?

While I’ve read many classics and novels, I tend to read Historical Romances for leisure.  That said, there’s really only one strict requirement for a book to belong to the genre: “Novels in this genre place their primary focus on the relationship and romantic love between two people, and must have an ‘emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending.’”

I’ve read a few books (no, I’m not going to name names) where the characters meet this requirement.  But, the story continues (usually in an epilogue) encompassing the protagonists’ deaths and grandchildren.

I know it shows they lived a long, happy, prosperous life.  But, I wasn’t too comfortable with it.  I maybe be naive or delusional, but personally, I like “PC” because it means I can open the book years later and they’ll still be alive, going about their business.  I like to think their lives continue even after we close the covers.  Just because we stop reading doesn’t mean they stop living.  That’s like thinking because we don’t go to school in the summer, teachers don’t get paid.  (They do you know.  Get paid.)

Now, I know if their lives DO continue after we put the book down that means they will eventually have to meet their end.  However, that’s assuming the characters follow our lifespan.  I like to think they don’t and once they’re written down they’ll live forever (unless their purpose was to die within the time frame of the story).  If the characters are real enough I’ll keep thinking about them long after I’ve finished reading.  I might even think about them in different scenarios, maybe write my own chapter of their lives.

What do you think? Do you have a preference or does it not matter as long as the story was good? Do you think I’m crazy because I want my characters to keep living after I’m done with them? 😀

PS

11 thoughts on “Novel Endings

  1. How many months late am I for commenting on this post?

    Okay, so I may be over two months, nearly three, late but what I have to say will blow your mind…maybe…or not…mostly not.

    I like PC, but I also like glimpses into the future where I see the characters going about there daily lives, just to see if everything is okay. I DON’T like reading about the death of a hero or heroine in the epilogue, whether they were old or young…I prefer to think of them as immortal. For romances, I like most of Jullia Quinn’s epilogues where we see the characters and their children (maybe) and how happy they ARE…not were.

    Note: All the above comments pertain to romances only, non-romance are a whole other story. *All the legal lingo is an attemp to make it sound more hard-core lol*

    • lol it’s fine. At least I know someone’s reading 😛 But, I totally agree. They’re immortal (even if it’s not a paranormal romance ^_^), immortalized on paper at least. A picture says a thousand words and all that stuff..

  2. I like the PC endings 🙂 Mainly because in life nothing gets totally wrapped up. There are always loose ends. But then, this is something you only encounter often in literary novels. In commercial romances authors tend to wrap everything up–all the conflicts in the protagonists’ lives gets resolved, bad guy is punished, and everything ends happily. I don’t mind this at all. If we read these books to escape reality, there’s no need for the author to feel pressured to introduce reality into the endings.

    The original ending of TRC was a PC ending, but I received many complaints from readers, so ended up adding an epilogue. But then this epilogue was TOO much of a corny wrap-up chapters that after many revisions I left it in between PC and FC. In between, as in, I left much to the readers to figure out.

  3. Jasmin’s comment:

    Good question. I best like endings that keep me completely satisfied and content. They don’t always have to be happy per se, but at least well written. I guess I’m the opposite here, I really like closure, and I don’t necessarily need an epilogue. I actually prefer not having one.

  4. Tiffany’s comment:

    I tend to prefer the epilogue. I like to know how the story ends and how the character that I’ve just seen grow for three hundred plus pages ends up. To use a romance reference that we’ve both read, the end of Z’s story in L.A. I loved t…he epilogue in that story because I loved that Z grew so much and that he ended up happy with Bella and Nalla. I don’t like having to guess what happened, I prefer to know. This goes for all types of books. I like to know that the character is doing well and most of the conflicts are resolved or on the road to being resolved. The actual conflict of the story may not be resolved, but the characters are doing well by the end, or at least as well as they could be given the conflict of the story.

  5. Hina’s comment (Yarrowicefrost on Fictionpress):

    Personally, I like stories that leave you wondering and you’re allowed to draw your own conclusions. That’s mostly because I read a lot of mystery books, some of my favourites have been those with sudden twists in the end.

    As for the rest o…f the genres, I want the main character to have developed somewhat from when they started out on page 1, there has to be a point to the book of course, other than that anything goes. Of course a happy ending is always good but only if it’s extremely well-written. It’s rather annoying when I spent a couple of hours reading a book and then it’s either a dream/ they kill off the main character.

    I agree on the epilouges bit by the way, I don’t like coming back to see characters I spent hours with have suddenly gotten old and died.

  6. This is my friend’s comment:

    Norma:

    “In romance in general, I do like it neat and tidy, but definitely not with an epilogue detailing their lives afterward (looking at you, JKR!) But something ending with them in their present time. I’m not even fond of the “few months/years l…ater” which has the heroine pregnant or they have a few kids already or whatever… that has to be done really well for me to enjoy it (Charming the Prince), or when the novel pre-epilogue has a very abrupt ending.

    Like in general fiction though, open endings… like hardcore ones (The Giver, for example) are great in the literary sense, but don’t work in formulaic romantic fiction. Unless you’re writing Gone With the Wind, lol.

    So to sum up: Rather have it open in the sense that when the main action ends, the story ends.”

  7. I like the full circle endings, but not to the point where I hear how they die. Grandchildren, perhaps, but I want them to live forever in my head. That’s one reason I like Julia Quinn’s second epilogues. It gives us another look into the characters’ lives, but not a full story’s worth.

    However, I’ve read some stories where it’s like a create-your-own-ending story and I don’t care for that at all. Ambiguous might be good for some people, but I’m not one of them.

    • Hmm, I might have said it wrong. I don’t like endings that are too ambiguous where I don’t know what happened. But, like you said I like JQ’s Second Epilogue because they do continue their lives..like….cartoon shorts on Disney 🙂

      I really, really don’t like the endings where the epilogue shows the main character on their deathbed or one spouse about to die because the other passed away moments before. It’s sweet and all..but..not for me

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