14 Comments

The Real Reason I Stopped

Blade of Dreams – from Forger of Dreams

I got an e-mail the other day asking if I had written the third book of Sagon’s story. The reader had read Forger of Dreams and the sequel Tempered in Flames years ago and was anxious to know how it all ends.

I haven’t replied. Part of me doesn’t have the heart.

Book three remains unwritten and the partial series shelved. Ironically, that particular reader was one of the big reasons I haven’t finished it yet.

He’d been through some rough times, including a divorce, and frankly he related so well with my hero that I panicked.

Sagon – MC of Forger of Dreams

It’s one thing to be hated by your own characters, but Sagon’s tale had it’s share of tragedy from book one. The ending is a far cry from fairy tale. The hero makes some poor choices and pays bitterly for them.

Although people like twists and turns, as a general rule, most readers crave some sort of happy ending. It’s part of the closure that brings satisfaction and encouragement.

So, what would happen when this reader didn’t find the happy ending he wanted? If a good book is supposed to take you on an emotional journey alongside the characters, did I really want to lead this reader there?

Besides, was that the first flavor I wanted to build a reputation on? I don’t consider myself a dark writer or overly tragic. This was just how Sagon’s story came to me and demanded to be written.

I started asking if the Star Wars movies had come in chronological order from the beginning, how many people would have watched the fourth one? What if people had faced the tragedy and heart-break of Anakin turning to the dark side without the knowledge of how it ended?

When I posed the question to my sister-in-law, she adamantly said, “No. After two books of rooting for the cute little boy, I don’t want to see him come to that!”

What say you? Would you keep watching? If it were a book, would you keep reading?

About Ren Black

Part-time novelist. Weekend artist. Full-time Mother. Ex-poet. Perfectionist by training. Compulsive researcher sporadically. Prone to fits of linguistic commentary Unorthodox Renegade occasionally. Sarcastic by habit... Dreamer Always... Consider Yourself Warned

14 comments on “The Real Reason I Stopped

  1. I read the Hunger Games trilogy clear through. I’d probably read this one.

  2. That’s a good question and thoughts. Especially in regards to Star Wars. Perhaps Lucas thought about the story affect on the people when he was putting it all together. I might be curious to see how it ended, so I would probably continue watching the series with the hopes of his redemption at the end. I am one of those readers who wants a happy ending, or at least a bittersweet ending.

    When Pirates of the Caribbean: At World Ends came out, I hated the movie. I wanted Elisabeth and Will to get together in the end, but then I started thinking about the story line and realized it had to be like that. It was a bittersweet ending and felt like a Greek tragedy play in a way. It made me start thinking about stories in a whole new light and our possible need for katharsis. Perhaps my desire for happy endings makes me a shallower person, but life has enough turmoil & emotional upheaval I tend to want stories that don’t add to it. I think if the end arises from the character’s choices in response to his or her obstacles, I can overcome a tragic ending…I think,

    I hope this doesn’t discourage you from finishing your story. You gotta write the story that’s in you. Who know’s how it will move people. Some might love, some might not, but that’s art.

    • I’m a happy ending type, too, Jennette. But yeah, the author’s gotta write the story that’s there, and sometimes that will be a tragedy.

      To answer Ren’s Star Wars question, I think there are enough other sympathetic characters besides Anakin (whom I never actually found to be that sympathetic, actually) that I would have kept watching.

      • Good point, Kristen. A variety of characters can do wonders.

        Don’t blame you about sparks with Anakin. He was cute as a little boy, but by show two he was set up to grate a bit. Perhaps it’s best described as too show-off and just a touch self-righteous. It’s a mid step to the final product. But I’ve read stories that I liked characters at the start but by the last book in the series I just didn’t care about any of them any more. I find it sort of sad. Shouldn’t the last book absolutely demand reading? Often I’ll finish just to find out what happened, but I’ve had a few stories that the characters bugged me too much.

    • Oh, I’ll write it at some point, despite the potential of death threats from friends and fans. I just didn’t want that to be the first impressions of me as a writer.

      Haven’t seen that Pirates show, but I’ve been frustrated by endings before. I dabble in Japanese anime sometimes and they’re infamous for non-fairytale endings. Unless the story is primarily a romance, it seems like most couples don’t really “get together” at the end. Like Princess Mononoke.

      I don’t think it’s an issue of a shallow person wanting a happy ending. I think it’s human nature. We want to see good triumph and the honest heart rewarded. There is a warm sense of satisfaction, like when the troubled soul repents, turns to God and finds peace and joy.

      Thanks Jennette.

  3. I would have been one of the ones who kept watching (or reading) to see what happened to Anakin, hoping for his redemption. At times, if I’m very attached to the character, I’m willing to follow them into some dark places in hopes that they will eventually reemerge into the light.

    I’m also beginning to prefer endings that have at least a touch of bittersweet. For all my optimism, I believe I’ve begun to accept Westley’s cynical, “Life is pain, highness. Anyone who tells you differently is selling something.” Seeing even a partial victory without pain and loss makes it lose its relevancy and poignancy.

    • True. And I love that quote! Here’s another quote on a similar level. Love it.

      “Only the Fairytale equates changelessness with happiness…Permanence means paralysis and death. Only in movement with all its pain, is life.” ~Jacob Burkhardt

    • Yep, great show with lots of nice memorable lines like that. I do agree that it easily can be too fairy tale. Risking and paying some cost is a life cycle you can’t just bypass.

      So, out of curiosity… what if the lost character never was redeemed? Star Wars is a perfect example of that final atonement persae. What if there had been no Emperor to kill? What if Vader had fought to the bitter end and Luke had been forced to kill his own father?

      • If the lost character was never redeemed, my feelings would probably depend on the situation in the story. Where there other characters who were redeemed? Did I see the one particular character’s decline? If so, I probably wouldn’t be too upset. I’d still hope, but I’d see the writing on the wall. If, however, there would no other evil characters who could be redeemed and if the character I’d been following suddenly, without foreshadowing or a gradual decline, became unredeemable, I’d probably be pretty irritated.

        If there had been no Emperor to kill, if Vader had fought to the bitter end, I would have been very disappointed. I know that not every character can accept redemption, and having the Emperor blindly continue in his evil served as a juxtaposition against Vader, who accepted the redemption offered to him. And of course if Luke had killed Vader, I would have thought Luke lost some of his own respectfulness and heroism, necessary though it might have been.

        All in all, it’s a good thing that Lucas wrote it the way it was. I don’t think it would have ended up a classic if it had turned out any other way. 🙂

  4. I agree with H.A. Titus that if Lucas had released the movies in chronological order, it wouldn’t have become a classic. It would not have resonated the way episodes 4-6 did, specific to the time in American/world history that the movies were released.

    Maybe, just maybe, if the stories were released as books and the books were extremely well written to walk a narrow road, then I would have read the whole thing from start to finish. But the story would have had to engage me with other characters and foreshadow the long-term redemption and somehow keep me from puking all over the book when Anakin went so very, very dark. I mean, killing younglings? Yikes. Not where I’d want to follow a protagonist.

    And it is HARD for an author to transfer reader attachments from one character to another. Other series have done the whole “next generation” of characters, and it’s a bumpy road getting someone to engage with the son of the last book’s protagonist.

    So I’m not saying it couldn’t be done (or hasn’t, though I can’t think of any series like that at the moment), but it would be a massive challenge.

    Meanwhile, I’m okay with the general idea that sometimes you don’t have a happy ending. Sometimes the tale is a tragedy, not a successful heroic quest. I, too, like a little bittersweetness to an ending. Hope you finish your story, Ren. Someday!

  5. […] –And finally, to this… (Maybe someone should have beta tested it first???)(Source) […]

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