Pandragon Dan

Pandragon Dan

Author/Reviewer/Blogger

Reading VS Writing

 

 

One of the most given bits of advice I see from authors when they are asked “what does it take to be a writer”, more often than not it’s “Read a lot”. This seems like pretty good advice and in some ways a no brainer. After all, you need to read in order to learn your craft – because how can you be expected to write a book if you don’t know how to set out your story?

 

However, my problem with this advice is that some authors put across the idea that you need to be a hardcore reader to be a writer, that you need to eat sleep and breathe reading and read about a hundred books before you can even pick up a pen (or keyboard).

 

This I don’t agree with and I would actually contest this. In my opinion, you don’t NEED to be a reader to be a writer.

 

At least to a point.

 

I am sure some of my author friends reading this will be raising their eyebrows here – just hear me out. And remember, this is just my opinion.

 

Firstly, I agree that you need to read books to learn to write them – in fact that needs to be the first thing you should do. But, contrary to what some authors believe, you do not need to read a LOT of books to get started. My belief has always been that, to be a writer, you just need to have a basic grasp of grammar, spelling and, most importantly, an imagination. Books can obviously teach you this, but reading too much can also be counterproductive. Reason? If you spend all your time reading, when are you supposed to find the time to actually write?

 

The only way you’re ever going to learn writing – is by writing! Now I know that there are authors out there that can read five books a day and still find time to write their own books – but that doesn’t work for everyone. I know that there are authors that have wall to wall bookshelves of all the books they’ve collected over the years, but I also know some authors that only have read a few books in their time. You have to find a balance between reading and writing or else you'll never get your book finished.

 

Speaking for myself, believe it or not, I actually am NOT a heavy reader. Obviously, I do read books, and even review them on this very blog – hell I even read manga and comics where I can. However, I work a full time job, play guitar in a band and also have my own projects on the go, so I don’t often find myself sitting still very long to read a novel except on my lunch break – or when nature calls. Ahem.

 

But truthfully, I also find it very hard to get into new authors. Aside from George R R Martin, I haven’t really got into any big name authors. In fact, if I’m being honest, some of the best books I’ve read (and most of my favourite authors) are by Indie authors. In fact, if you were to ask me who I think the top five best authors are at the moment, they would all be Indie ones! But another reason I find it hard to get into new authors is that you just can’t beat Douglas Adams or H.P. Lovecraft in my opinion! XD

 

So... how many novels SHOULD you read before you become a writer? There’s no real “amount” as such, but I would definitely read a couple or more at least to get an idea for storytelling. In fact, pick an author that you admire and see how they write to get some ideas. Obviously don’t copy them, but give yourself an idea.

 

Reading is good and it will help you no end, but it can only teach you so much. The only way you’re ever going to be any good at writing is to write. It’s fair enough reading about a hundred novels to learn as much as you can, but if you spend TOO much time away from writing, then your will never get done. You need to find that perfect balance between reading and writing – of which I can’t advise you on that, you need to learn it for yourself. What? You don’t expect me to tell you EVERYTHING do you?

 

So in closing, if you ask any author for advice and they tell you that you need to read a lot, my view is to take it with a pinch of salt. It’s not necessarily a lie as such – just a half truth. I’d say read a few books to get an idea, learn to write and then start putting down some ideas. Reading is a great way to get started on your way to being a best selling author, but don’t be intimidated into thinking that you need to read a million books first hand. You only need to do one important thing to be an author. And that is WRITE!

 

But I’d also like to make one thing clear, as reading this back, it makes is look as though I’m saying you should rush things in your attempt to be a writer. That’s not true. Take your time. A story is finished when it’s finished. As I said earlier, you need to find a balance between writing and reading, but never rush your work. Great stories take a while to get through after all.

 

Thanks for reading – now go write that novel that you’ve been planning for ages!

 

Agree? Disagree? Please Facebook, tweet or message me or leave a comment with your thoughts.

 

 

-------------------------

PANDRAGON

 

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Limiting Your Audience

A while ago, I went to do a talk at my old secondary school about Trapped on Draconica, which at the time was one of the most borrowed books in the school library. I got asked a lot of questions from the kids in the Book Club (some of them budding authors themselves) about my influences and my writing. One question I got asked, by one of the teachers funnily enough, was “Do you write your books for a female audience more than a male audience?” which I guess was because I had a predominately female cast in my novel. I replied “Actually, I like to write stories for BOTH audiences. Why limit my readership?”

 

Strangely enough, I got thinking about that the other day and it’s inspired me to write this post. This was a post that I intended to put on my blog months ago, but I never got round to writing it. Until now (insert dramatic music)

 

So, as you can tell by the intro (and possibly the title) today I want to talk about limiting your audiences and the best ways to avoid it. I’m going to be looking at gender specific readership for this topic to give you my opinion on this matter. What I’m about to talk about isn’t necessarily a major issue amongst writers, but it something that I think authors need to consider when creating their work.

 

I’ll just come right out and say it. I personally have never been too fond of stories (that’s books, TV shows, films, etc) that seem to value one gender about the other – that’s a story aimed at a female audience or a story aimed a male audience. I guess you could argue that any story made has always had a specific gender in mind for their demographic. But I’d like to know, what’s so wrong with a story that BOTH genders can enjoy? The problem I tend to find with this is that the said target audience tends to be put in a better light (such as being faster, stronger, etc) whereas the opposing gender comes across in a rather poor light. I can understand that they do this to make the intended gender feel empowered and that’s not a problem at all. But, it does run the risk of isolating the other gender and – dare I say it – coming across as potentially sexist.

 

Don’t worry, I have no intention of turning this post into a diatribe of “Battle of the Sexes” – but I do want to put across a couple of examples just to put my point across as to why I think this is a problem.

 

Let’s take two examples of stories. Example A is a story where all the female characters are strong, confident  and bold – and all the men are lazy, cowardly and useless. Clearly the female audience is being pushed here and the female audience will be empowered by this. But what about the men? How are they supposed to feel seeing how they are portrayed in this way?

 

Example B now, which is a story where all the men are heroic, strong, macho types that save the day, and all the women are weak damsel in distresses. Sure, it makes the guys feel tough, but the girls are most likely shouting “That’s sexist!” And they’d have a point.

 

But let me ask you this – how is Example B ANY different from Example A?

 

The answer? They aren’t. Both of them are portraying the opposing gender in a negative aspect and both seem to be giving the impression that the only way to make the readers happy is by putting the opposite sex in a bad light. Equality is a two-way street guys, sexism works both ways! :)

 

This one of the reasons why I didn’t really like Frozen. It seemed to be too aimed towards the female market and left the males, well, out in the cold. Nothing wrong with that and I fully respect Disney for putting a feminist slant on the film. Anna and Elsa were very strong female leads and all the girls love them, which is great – but who are the men supposed to cheer for? Certainly not Hans, Olaf was annoying as hell and Kristoff was pretty much useless as a hero. I am not saying that there was nothing for men to enjoy about Frozen as I know a lot of guys who love this film. All I’m saying is that it would have been nice if there was a male character that wasn’t totally useless, annoying – or just downright evil. It obviously didn’t hurt Disney’s reputation (giving the shed loads of cash it generated), but this part just bothered me. To be honest, if I was in charge of that project and the film came to me in this form, I would have told them to re-write Kirstoff so that he actually had a point to the film.

 

(And no, in case any of you are thinking, I don’t have it in for Frozen, despite what my posts will have you believe. However, that being said, if people are allowed to obsess on how much they love this film, surely I can obsess on how much I don’t like this film to counter balance it. Order and Chaos after all! ;) )

 

Anyway, I’m getting a little off track here. Let me bring it back to my original point.

 

This is not to say that you can’t write a story with a particular audience in mind – all I’m saying is that there is no reason why you can’t make it so that everyone can enjoy it. If you want to write that story about a strong female that is trying to make her way in the world of men (who are all pigs, chauvinists and bullies), go ahead. But why not add in a male character that’s just as competent as her and understands her plight. He doesn’t have to save the day, he just needs to prove that not all men are bastards and at the same time, add a strong role model for the males to follow. Similarly, if you want to write that tough, action hero story – with a macho super spy – why not have a woman that’s equally as competent as he is, helping him out when she can and showing that he doesn’t have to go at it alone. Even Jack Bauer had some help from some equally as tough female s like Renee Walker (I love that character).

 

For me, the best stories are ones that anyone can enjoy regardless of gender. A Song of Ice and Fire is arguably a male dominated story, but it has a whole roost of strong female characters that can stand up to the men in more ways than one – Dany and Ayra to name a couple. Firefly has some loveable rogues, but also wonderfully written females in the form of Zoe Walsh, Innara and Kaylee that helped counterbalance what would have been a testosterone filled space opera. Oh, and we can’t forget River either. She was just brilliant, as was her brother Simon as well. Even Sailor Moon, a show that is considered to be one of the first female fronted Animes had Tuxedo Mask to help fight the monsters, so the producers didn’t entirely discount their male viewership. Point being, it’s better to have stories that all genders can enjoy as it will help your fanbase grow. And let’s face it – if guys can like My Little Pony, then surely anything is possible.

 

 

Sailor Moon and her team were cool to have a guy fight by their side! And he was just as kick ass as the girls.

 

 

“But what about Romance stories?” I hear some of you ask. “Aren’t Romance stories aimed more for the female audience, because men don’t enjoy romance?” Well, if you go by THAT logic, then I can come back and say “So women can’t play football then?” (And I know that some countries call it soccer – but here in England, we call it by its proper name, dammit! XD). Well considering that there are some very good (and respected) female league teams, that would be wrong of me to say so. And again, I bring it back to my earlier point – why can’t you write a Romance story that men can enjoy? I’m a guy, I enjoy Romance novels! Two of my favourite authors (Mysti Parker and Michelle Horst – if you’re both reading, you’re welcome ;) ) are Romance authors. Also, they have “Lad-Lit” to go along with “Chick-Lit” so why not have a Romance novel that guys can enjoy? Again, to dispel a myth, there happen to be a lot of men out there that are in touch with their feelings and enjoy a good romance. And I think that’s awesome!

 

Now, I have talked to a few authors in the past about this subject and one excuse I seem to get a lot is “Oh, I could NEVER write a strong male/female” and then give some random excuse as to why not. So it does seem that some authors have a problem aiming their stories at a particular audience. I have a piece of advice to impart on that, which I learned from an author that helped me when I was starting out.

 

“Dan, you’re a writer. You have an imagination. USE IT!”

 

The truth is that ANYONE can create a good character if they find the inspiration. There are plenty of characters out there already for you to take inspiration from – or even real life characters. I even know a writer who creates characters using her family as inspiration. Writing is an art and it’s something you have to work on. And if writers like J.K Rowling, Stephen King and George R R Martin (to name a few) can create characters that both genders like, then you should be able to as well.

 

So, when writing your next novel, don’t try and leave out one gender over the other. Don’t make all your male characters useless, or make your female characters damsels in distress. Mix it up a bit – have that one competent male that proves to the female protagonist that there are good men out there. Or have that one female showing the tough action hero that she doesn’t need a man to protect her, and maybe bring out a kinder side to him. I may write strong female characters, but I will never leave my male readers in the cold and I know that I have to do things to appease both genders. And you guys can to.

 

Agree? Disagree? Please leave your comments below or Facebook or Tweet me to let me know your thoughts.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

--------------------------

PANDRAGON

 

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An epiphany...

“Why should I bother?”

 

This is a phrase that I know EVERYONE has said in their life – and certainly I know that many authors have said at one time in their life. Writing can be fun, there’s no doubt about that – but it can also be really depressing at times. Especially if things don’t go your way.

 

I won’t lie to you, there are times when even I get depressed about the way my writing is going. There are times when I see other authors get a huge following and sales and I feel a little bit of jealousy creep up within me. Not that I mean to be spiteful and, in truth, I have complete respect for any author that can gain a strong following and reputation, regardless of genre. But there are times when I think to myself “what are they doing that I’m not?” That being said, I always do my best to promote indie authors wherever I can and will always do that. I really have no right to be jealous of these authors as they are doing what they enjoy doing and I can respect that. But I can get down at times. And recent events have really put a downer on me.

 

Over the summer, I busted my ass off to try and promote my book – deciding I was not gonna sit back and let it go unnoticed. So I plugged my book wherever I could, doing conventions, talks and even blogs. For the first couple of months of summer, I actually did really well, selling tons of paperbacks at conventions, selling more to Waterstones and even doing the talk at my old school. For these months I was buzzing, and when I started writing more stories I felt like I was on top of the world...

 

But then, real life kicked in.

 

For the last couple of months, things have come to a complete standstill. Work commitments, delays with artwork and other things seem to have conspired against me to stop me doing anything creative. Lately, I just haven’t had the motivation to do any writing at all. This also means that I’ve not had time to promote my work as much as I used to, so sales have kinda ground to a stop.

 

It seems that lately I’ve been fighting a losing battle with my book, and with the lack of motivation draining me, I did actually think “you know what, screw it! I’m gonna give up!” And that was something that I NEVER thought I’d say. So I was all ready to pack up my writing and maybe work to getting a normal life.

 

But then, recently, I got a very nice surprise in my email inbox. A mother sent me an email through my website, telling me that she recently brought a paperback copy of Trapped on Draconica for her son, who was into Manga and had down syndrome (she has given me permission to talk about this through further conversation, but out of respect, I will not be mentioning any names). Apparently her son has a very bad turn recently, but since reading this book he’s become a lot better and loves the story. He apparently reads it over and over and really enjoys it – he even asked when the next one is coming out!

 

You know what – if my book can help just one person, then it’s all worth it!

 

But then I look back since I first released Trapped on Draconica and I realise that my book has done more good that maybe I first thought. After all, at my first convention, I gained two huge fans (who helped me get a place at Anime Attacks at Newcastle), at the book club at my old school, one of the pupils said I was her inspiration to become a writer – hell, someone has even put an article of Trapped on Draconica on TV Tropes about it. And when I did the Sponsume campaign for my sequel novel, I got a lot of sponsorship for it, something I never expected to get. So this shows that people DO care about my work.

 

This made me realise that I can NEVER quite writing. Because of those people. It may sound corny, but knowing that there are a few people that genuinely care about my work makes it all worthwhile. I may not have a bestselling novel, or award winning or in the top 100 best kindle sales (and all power to those authors who do), but knowing that there are people who have read my book and become inspired by it does fill me with a sense of accomplishment.

 

I therefore have decided, from today to make a list of three things that I must do.

 

  1. Not to let my petty jealously get in the way and continue to support and promote authors. In fact, maybe I can learn something from those authors and find ways to promote my work further.
  2. Not care about whether my book becomes a bestseller, but just be the best writer that I can be and tell the story the way I want to tell it.
  3. Most importantly – I’m gonna WRITE and keep writing!

 

I’m sure that there are lots of authors that have felt like they’re not making a difference with their work and got depressed now and then. Believe me, I know how it feels. But to any author that feels this way – remember this. Somewhere out there, your work means something to someone – maybe even several people. And if you can reach just those few people, it’s all worth it!

 

Stick with it. It gets better! It really isn't that bad when you look at the whole picture.

 

Thanks for reading guys. Have a great week!

 

Kindest

 

 

Pandragon

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Top Five Crossovers/Fan Fictions I'd Love to Read

Hey guys. Sorry for the blog going up a day late. Due to the recent problems in Denver, I decided to hold back this blog for one day. My heart and prayers go out to the families of those affected during this difficult time.

 

But now, as promised, I bring another Top Five for my blog. This one is slightly different than the others and actually more an experiment. Hope it works. It if doesn't - well, I'm sure you guys will let me know.

 

Crossover stories have interested me in some way - when two of our favourite stories or characters come together for the joy of all fans of that series. Ever since the old days of King Kong Versus Godzilla, there have been a lot of speculations and “what ifs” about different characters and stories coming together to create some kind of super story that shakes the very foundations of fandom and creates all manner of arguments. Crossover stories are quite popular (especially in the world of comics) and in fan fiction – which is littered with tons of crossover stories. Some make sense (like, for example, Spider-Man Versus Batman) but others are just plain weird. For example, I once read a fan-fiction that was a crossover between the Manga Dragonball Z – and The Diary of Anne Frank. How the hell did THAT idea ever come about?

 

Now, for me personally, I don’t always think crossovers are a good idea – most of the time it’s done purely for fanservice and often is wrought with plot holes and inconsistencies (don’t get me started on the DREADFUL Alien Versus Predator films! Yeah, I know those films have their fans and that's fair enough - but I personally don't like them). However, on occasion, I think that there are some crossovers that SHOULD be made – just for fun if anything else. I like the idea of two completely stories crossing over with each other and seeing how the two worlds would react once they meet.

 

Therefore, today’s Top Five is the Top Five Crossover/Fan Fictions I’d LOVE to read!

 

 

DISCLAIMER!

 

All works included here are copyright of their respective owners. I claim NO ownership in mentioning and of these and purely use them for parody purposes. Please support the official releases.

 

Also, I haven’t actually researched any of these ideas yet – so there is every chance some of the ideas mention could ALREADY exist. If you are a writer of parody/fanfic/etc and one of your ideas is here – I apologise and no ill will is meant. Please contact me if I have listed one of your ideas here.

 

Also, as this is a bit of fun, I’m sure some of my ideas may upset hardcore fans of the series mentioned. Please don’t take this seriously; it’s just a bit of fun!

 

Ok, now I got that out the way, let’s look at the Top Five Crossover/Fan Fictions I’d love to read.

 

 

1. Harry Potter and the Call of Cthullu

 

Mix of: Harry Potter and the Cthullu mythos.

 

The Story: Sort of a reboot of the franchise. Harry Potter thought he lived a normal life until he discovers he comes from a long line of wizards. He attends Hogwarts school and starts to learn magic.

 

Being crap at it, he visits the local library to try and learn some more powerful spells – discovering a hidden copy of the Necronomicon. Foolishly casting a wrong spell, Harry awakens the mighty Cthullu from his sleep. Now the Great Old One and his legion of Deep One followers begin their insane quest for dominance to enslave mankind for forty years of darkness.

 

It’s up to Harry and his friends to try and stop him – but Harry soon learns the dark secret of his family.

 

Why it would be awesome: In true Lovecraftian fashion, Harry could discover that his parents were actually Cthullu cultists and that when Harry was born, Cthullu planted his seed into Harry, which is why he was able to free him (or something convoluted like that). Even though Harry could defeat Cthullu, the memory of this causes him to go insane (as is the fate of any protagonist in a Lovecraftian story), forever crippled by this dark knowledge.

 

This could be a great chance to show how dark Harry Potter can REALLY be! Speaking as someone who isn't a fan of the Harry Potter books, I still can appredicate the dark undertones within it. And if you mix it with arguably the greatest horror writer of all time (in my opinion), then you got some potentional for some really messed up material.

 

 

2. Lord of the Thrones

 

Mix off: Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones

 

The Story: Many years ago, the Dark Lord Sauron forged a master ring so that he could take over the world of Westeros. Many of the Houses fell to him, including Lannister and Targaryen and swore to be his servants. But an alliance of Starks and Baratheons joined forces and helped destroy the Dark Lord Sauron. But the ring was lost.

 

Years later, Daenarys Stormborn (last of the Targaryen dynasty) has come across the one ring and gathers her Dothraki armies to assault Westeros. The Nazghul attack from the North, trying to break through the Wall, guarded by the Nights Watch. And the Starks are facing enemies from the Lannisters, who plan to take over the throne and prepare for the coming of the Dark Lord.

 

Our only hope lays in the hands of Tyrion Lannister, a quick witted dwarf that is hated by his family. He alone can save the world of Westeros and destroy the Dark Lord – or not. Because, for there are plenty of twists and turns along the way.

 

Why it would be awesome: It would just be exactly like the original Lord of the Rings – except with more violence, nudity and incest – which was heavily lacking in LOTR in my mind.

 

Actually, in all seriousness, I doubt this crossover will ever happen (officially anyway). George R R Martin has always stated his hatred of fan fiction and refuses to give permission to his characters to be used. So, in essence, I just broke that rule! (Sorry GRRM, if you’re reading this, I think you’re awesome!) So I guess this is one idea that will never happen. Never mind. Let's move on.

 

 

3. Twilight and Prejudice

 

Mix off: Twilight and Pride and Prejudice

 

The Story: (Note: I haven’t actually read Pride and Prejudice so I don’t really know what the story is. I apologise if I offend any Austen experts with this one).

 

Elizabeth is an attractive, witty, but rather judgemental young woman in a old fashioned British family. Then one day, a rich young man by the name of Edward Cullen moves into the nearby estate. A somewhat shy, reclusive young man, Elizabeth none the less falls for him. One problem, he just happens to be a vampire!

 

And so the two engage on a slow moving affair, where Edward teaches her about life as a vampire. Soon, their love grows so much that Elizabeth asks to BE a vampire as well. But Edward will not allow that. Can they possibly fight through all obstacles to prove their love? (I’ll give you a hint – yes!)

 

Why it would be awesome: This could be a powerful and moving story that mixes in the wit and irony of Jane Austen with... er, a vampire that sparkles in the daylight? Ok, so as you can probably guess I'm not exactly what you call a Twilight affectionardo – but I think if there ever was a perfect match of two different genres, why not this one? And hell, they once did a Pride and Prejudice with zombies – why not vampires?

 

Hopefully it won't suck (ooohhhh, bad puns FTW!)

 

 

4. The Hunger Wars

 

Mix off: The Hunger Games and Star Wars.

 

The Story: A long time ago, but still set in the future (don't ask me how), the Evil Galactic Empire have finally managed to subdue the Rebel Alliance after so long fighting. Their leader, Darth Vader, has declared that once a year, a boy and a girl must take part in the Hunger Wars, fighting it out to the death.

 

Enter Katniss Everdeen, one of the participants. Unbeknownst to the other participants (and even the Empire), Katniss is the last of the Jedi – who were supposedly wiped out during the rebellion. Katniss must now use her Jedi powers to fight off all contenders and face Darth Vader in combat. Cue plenty of over the top action and some mature violence! Oh, and plenty of people shouting "nnnnnnnooooooooooo!"

 

Why it would be awesome: Even though I still haven’t read The Hunger Games, I have seen a little bit of the film - and from what I saw I liked it. Katniss is a pretty kick ass heroine - so why not make her MORE kick ass by making her a Jedi? Because it is my belief you make a character a million times more badass when you make them either a Ninja or a Jedi.

 

Maybe there could even be a scene where Katniss puts an arrow through Jar-Jar Binks head – finally freeing us of the torture of that character! Hell, I’d read it just for that one scene!

 

 

NOTE: This next entry may contain some adult themes that might be unsuitable for younger readers. Just saying! Also this next one is probably the WIERDEST of the entry - but just hear me out.

 

5. 50 Shades of Greyskull

 

Mix off: 50 Shades of Grey and She-Ra: Princess of Power.

 

The Story: Frustrated by his inability to defeat She-Ra and the rebellion, Hordak plans a final plot to finally defeat his enemy. Having learned to transform himself into various machinery over the years, Hordak learns to turn his arm into (ahem) a rabbit – those who watch Sex in the City will know that I am not referring to a cuddly animal. With this, She-Ra is finally at his mercy. Or so it seems.

 

Not to be outdone, She-Ra learns to turn her sword into a whip to fight him off. And so the two former enemies begin a quest of discovery, involving plenty of interesting “toys” and... well you get the idea!

 

Meanwhile, He-Man comes to his sisters aid – only to discover that she actually doesn’t WANT any help... The story gets a little blue here so I'll stop.

 

Why it would be awesome: It’s a 50 Shades of Grey parody – with She-Ra! Do I even need to go on?

 

Ok, so this last one may upset a few She-Ran fans, but I HAD to get a 50 Shades crossover in there somehow, given that this is the ONLY book I seem to be hearing about at the moment. And seeing as She-Ra was the first fictional character I ever had a crush on, it kinda makes sense. Plus, I think it would give a whole new meaning to the term “Princess of Power!”

 

Yeah, so maybe this idea is a little perverted (what, from little innocent old me?) but seeing as 50 Shades of Grey is officially now THE bestselling book of all time (beating even Twilight and Harry Potter), I don’t think I can be judged too harshly. I hope.

 

Trivia: Did you know that 50 Shades apparently started off as Twilight fan fiction?

 

Anyway, those are my choices for the Top Five Crossovers, some strange, some obscure, but all I think worthy ideas. Did this experiment work? Please feel free to leave your comments below.

 

Right, now I'm going to sit down and write my soon-to-be-bestselling masterpiece: 50 Twilights of Harry Potter and the Hunger Game of Thrones. With a title like that I just can't lose!

 

Until next time. Have a great weekend folks!

 

 

Regards

Pandragon

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Happy Or Sad? Which Is The Better Ending?

Todays topic is something that has been widely discussed by many writers/readers since - well since before blogging started I guess. But today I'm having my say on the matter.

 

In my opinion, an ending is probably one of the most important things of any story - be it in book or film or even game form. The ending in the last scene in the story, the moment where the reader/watching looks back over the course of story and thinks either "damn, that was a great story," or "that was the worst piece of s*** I've ever seen/read in my life since Battlefield Earth." An ending should leave you with a lasting impression of the whole story and make you want to recommend it to your friends - or better yet, read/see it again.

 

The big question is, how do you end your story. I think it's fair to say that a common opinion is that every story should have a happy ending - but then there are some who consider that cliched and prefer to go with a "darker" or "sadder" ending.

 

Now, I like happy endings - but I also like bad endings. But which is better? There's only one way to find out! 

Actually, that's just a joke. I just wanted to get Harry Hill in my blog. :)

 

Anyway, onto the subject at hand. To be honest, I don't think it should be too surprising that happy endings are more popular. After all, in the old days of film, these were the ONLY types of endings we got - as the Film Code of Authority prevented evil of any kind from succeeding. Nowadays, story tellers have a lot more freedom in the way they tell their stories - and even many video games include multiple endings (some good, some bad) to make the player decide the outcome based on their choices.

 

If I'm being honest, I'm actually a fan of BOTH types of ending. In the old days, I used to always try and avoid a "happy" ending and tended to go for something a bit darker. But as I grew more experienced, I started to realise the importance and power of a happy ending. But at the same time I appreciated the power that a "bad" ending could have.

 

I'll try and explain below.

 

Whilst it could be argued that happy endings are somewhat of a cliche and overblown, I actually do not have a problem with them. See, for any good story to work (and it doesn't matter if it's a Fantasy, Romance, Comedy, whatever) the protagnoist needs to go through a journey. Along that journey, he or she has to suffer somewhat, ie, lose everything, fail along the way, etc. Therefore, when he/she achieves their goal, the audience feels elated and pleased for them as they have suffered with him. A happy ending for the audience is somewhat of a "pain relief" as they have wanted the character to survive. Sometimes a happy ending can be sad as well, as the hero can look back on what they lost along the way.

 

Two examples of where I think a happy ending can work (and I should warn you this part contains MINOR SPOILERS) is the film Slumdog Millionaire. In that film, the kid is fighting to become a millionaire and is able to answer the questions quite easily - but it's only because the questions bring up moments of his traumatic past and the horror he's had to go through. Because we are seeing his past torments, we really want the kid to win. I actually really felt myself routing for the protagonist and hoped it would have a happy ending. The other example is Pursuit of Happyness, based on the real life experiences of Chris Gardner. In that film, Chris (played by Will Smith) has to struggle with homelessness, no money, whilst trying to look after his son. It's so heartwrenching to watch as Chris is a nice guy and you really want him to do well. Then when he becomes a millionaire, you feel so happy for him as he geniunely had to struggle to get there. Or, as another example, the struggle that Frodo has to go through to destroy the One Ring in Lord of The Rings and the happiness that we feel once Sauron is defeated.

 

I think the general feeling of a happy ending is that it makes a reader or viewer feel fulfilled and relieved - whereas a sad ending leaves them disappointed and unfulfilled. But you should NEVER underestimate the power of a bad ending. They can have just as much dramatic impact as a happy ending, filling the reader/viewer with a sense of fear and terror, or mourning for the loss of humanity. Horror movies, for instance, usually like to put a twist at the end of it to fool the viewers into thinking that the protagonist escaped the horror - when in fact there is something else out there to put a downer on their happy moment!

 

But at the same time, a bad ending doesn't necessarily have to be bad in the sense that the hero didn't win - they can be poignent and have real emotional depth to them - especially if they are based on true events. For example, Titanic didn't (and in my opinion, couldn't) have a happy ending because of the people that died when the Titanic sank. Ok, so the main heroine lived on - but they still didn't excuse the fact that she lost so much, and that people died. By the same token, movies about the Holocaust can't exactly end well due to the subject matter. I even once watched a film based on the Hiroshima incident and knew full well that wasn't going to have a happy ending.

 

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that a happy ending is great and I think I would prefer it over a bad ending. But bad endings (if done well) can have a massive emotional impact and make us really emotional.

 

For me personally, though, ANY ending, no matter bad or good, has to be right within the context of the story. It has to feel like a natural outcome. If you're just trying to force a happy ending into a story for the hell of it, that's wrong. And if you just want to have a bad ending just because you feel like it, that's wrong also. An ending MUST fit in with the theme of the story, no matter the genre.

 

For myself, I will most likely go down the route of a happy ending - but I want to make sure that my protagonists suffer along the way, so that the ending feels like a justified outcome. I do occasionally go with a bad ending now and then, I'll make sure that it is justified. My lastest book, All Hail Emperor Gothon, for example, is quite depressing and doesn't have a great outcome, given that it's a prequel to the main villain - but if you read Trapped on Draconica, you know that the story ends ok at the end.

 

So that's my two cents. Sorry for being a bit neutral in the arguement, but I just can't choose one ending over another. However, I always love to hear your opinions, so please leave a comment below to let me know what type of ending YOU prefer.

 

Thanks for reading guys. Have a great weekend!

 

 

Pandragon

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