A while back I mentioned in a post that I preferred my horror stories to end with hope. This actually applies to just about everything I read, with the exception of books that lay in the middle of a series. Right now this isn’t a very popular method, especially in horror. At the end of just about every movie I see, everyone is dead and the evil is unleashed upon the world.
So, without getting too philosophical, I’ll explain my preference.
If there is no hope, than what is the point?
When I read, I am immersed in the world of the novel. I am fighting alongside the protagonist. I am suffering with the victims. I have something to lose. When the stakes are high, there should be losses, for sure. Kill those darlings and kill them brilliantly. Tear my heart out.
But if you then leave me devoid of any chance of redemption… well, then I’m just pissed I wasted my time reading your book only to be left depressed and hopeless.
Now, frequently this tactic is used to leave room for a sequel. I get it. But unless that is clear, (think the Dark Tower Series), I will likely not read another one of your books and I will not recommend it to anyone else.
That doesn’t mean everything has to be roses and sunshine at the end. No. The world can literally blow up and everyone is dead. But maybe, just maybe a life pod made it out… or a DNA arc, or freaking anything.
If you’re reading this and shaking your head and saying to yourself “She doesn’t get my vision. This is how my story HAS to end!” Then please ignore me. Because you are the Lord of your created world. You know better than anyone else, and you’re right. I won’t get it. I’m am not your ideal audience.
But if you feel like you have to end in total darkness because that’s what you’re seeing as being a successful ending to a story, I urge you to reconsider. End with just a note of hope, even if it’s in a bleak and burning hellscape. It will make a huge impact.