I’ve been reading a book after I finish work every day. The book is very well written, and I’ve enjoyed it up to the point where the protagonist is in deep trouble. With any other book, I’d continue reading, congratulating myself on finding such a suspenseful book, one in which the characters are so well drawn.
I have a feeling, however, that the hero is going to die. But not just die – he’s going to undergo some truly horrible things before he dies. Why am I so certain of this? The book is a suspense. Not a romantic suspense. Not a romance.
You know what that means, don’t you?
What it means is that the writer wants the reader to form an attachment to the character, because he’s going to either cause the character irreparable harm or kill him off – brutally. The writer doesn’t have a clue that he’s violating one of my Ranney Rules – thou shalt not piss off the reader. Instead, it’s almost as if he’s writing for the critics.
I don’t like books and movies where someone dies and nothing is bright and beautiful. Life is bleak, filled with despair, yet the book/movie/play is touted as a brilliant “tour de force”.
I find myself holding back when I read books like this. I’m never quite 100% involved. When I close the covers of this particular book, I suspect I’ll be sorry to have read the book. Heck, I’m sorry now, and I’ve only finished half of it. Yes, I’m curious as to what happens. But I’m also irritated. I don’t want to invest that much emotional energy into a character for him to suffer or die.
Frankly, I see nothing wrong with wanting a happy ending. I want people to have gone through hell and emerged, scathed but intact, on the other side. As an incurable optimist, I believe in the power of the human will, the beauty of the human spirit, and the redemptive power of love. I want people – and characters – to triumph over adversity.
Well, shoot, that’s why I write happy endings, isn’t it?
Maybe I should just stick to reading them.
If you’d like to read a true happy ending, for two people who didn’t believe in them, I hope you get a chance to read A Scotsman in Love.