“If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.”
— Orson Welles, The Big Brass Ring
I love this quote because it’s really the essence of a story.
Any story is just a segment.
Where it starts, where it stops, is all up to the writer.
When you start thinking about your characters as living, breathing people who live outside their story, your writing will reach a deeper level.
But also? You get to decide. If you want to write a tragedy, you end the story with the dark night of the soul. If you don’t want to write a tragedy, you just keep writing a little. Another quarter or so of your book and your character figures out a way out of the pit.
I’m not drawn to tragic stories. I always thought it was because I didn’t want to leave the book or the movie feeling sad. Which is true. But it’s also the truth that I’m just nosy. I want to know what happens next. How they recover.