Sad Stories

Have you ever shied away from reading a book because you know it’s going to have a sad ending? Or have you been in the mood to seek out such a book? What if a book has a sad ending, only you weren’t expecting it?

I remember years ago I was determined to read a couple of the books recommended by Oprah. I told myself I really should be reading what is guaranteed to become a best seller, just because so many people follow her advice.

But I honestly couldn’t get through the books she was talking about. I made it about half way through the first, skimming the rest. It was very well written, but the characters were largely unlikeable and went through one horror after another. I don’t recall many details, only that a woman was asked by her neighbor to babysit her kids, and one ended up drowning in their pool or pond. The woman then went to prison for child endangerment and while incarcerated her husband had an affair with the mother of the child who died. Revenge? I couldn’t read it, no matter how masterful the prose. It was just too downright depressing.

Right now I’m reading Still Alice, the best-selling story of a brilliant, confident woman suffering with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. It’s not a book I would have chosen, but it won the majority in my book club so it’s a must-read if I want to participate in this month’s meeting. Again, it’s well written, but it has a guaranteed tragic end. It’s not a book I’ll likely keep on my shelf.
When I was younger, sad endings didn’t bother me so much. The first sad movie I enjoyed was Old Yeller, and as a teen I flocked to the theater along with other girls my age to see Love Story. And then The Way We Were. But as I get older, such sad stories just don’t hold any appeal for me—even if, as the quote goes, the story is well done. Of course, there are stories that have satisfying ends that don’t necessarily end happily. Gone With The Wind seemed to have the right ending, even if it wasn’t happy. And the first Academy Award winning movie, the silent film Wings, is one of my absolute favorites even though it has a bittersweet ending.

But I confess I write stories with happy endings—maybe because I hear about enough sad stories on the news. Why make up more sad endings, when it’s just as easy to write a story with a happy one?


What about you? Do you prefer happy endings, or sad?

All_In_Good_Time_Screen_ShotSpeaking of happy endings, the e-book version of my newest title, All In Good Time, is being offered by my publisher at the special price of only 2.99 for any electronic version (Kindle, Nook, etc.). So if you prefer happy endings, this one’s for you!


About Maureen Lang

Author of a dozen novels, Maureen Lang has won the Selah Award, a Holt Medallion, FHL's Reader's Choice Award, and been a finalist in such contests as the Christy, the Rita, the Carol, Book Buyer's Best, and others. Before publication she was the recipient of a Golden Heart and a Genesis (then called the Noble Theme). She resides with her husband and kids in the Chicago area. Titles by Maureen Lang All In Good Time Bees In The Butterfly Garden Springtime Of The Spirit Whisper On The Wind Look To The East My Sister Dilly On Sparrow Hill The Oak Leaves Remember Me Pieces Of Silver
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6 Responses to Sad Stories

  1. bethrachg says:

    I’m with you, Maureen. In fact, I think I might have written a similar topic a while back–but I don’t enjoy tragic endings in books OR movies. I want to walk away happy and satisfied, not grief-stricken. There is too much tragedy in real life so much of what I write are escape stories. Calgon, take me away! LOL


  2. I agree completely. There’s enough sadness in the world. When I read I want to escape to a place of happy endings. I love to read romances and now I write them. I recently had another writer tell me how boring romances are because you know the ending. She has every right to her opinion, but I don’t agree. Knowing the ending or not, I like experiencing the journey with the characters. How do they get to their happy ending?


    • Maureen Lang says:

      Boring! Oh, my! I’m totally with you, Lara. It’s the journey of getting to that ending that’s so wonderful in romantic fiction. I love anticipating their time together, enjoy surprises along the way, feel the conflict that seems insurmountable, plus steady growth and change in the characters themselves to make them better together than apart by the end of the book. It’s all about the process to convince me this couple is perfect for one another!
      Thanks for inspiring my little rant . . .


  3. juliearduini says:

    I am so invested in encouraging others and often work with women with such sad issues that I can’t emotionally handle a sad ending. I smile at your mention of Old Yeller, that absolutely traumatized me, as do all animal movies.

    I’m a pretty intense/deep person, especially in ministry, so I find it cool that God would put on my heart to write contemporary romance with strong, humorous characters.

    Great post!


    • Maureen Lang says:

      Thanks, Julie! That’s always the struggle for writers: we tend to be more emotional than many others, which can be a blessing to create feeling characters, but it also makes watching or reading something with a sad ending even harder.
      God bless you for using your compassion to help others! And I’m smiling with you to imagine God wiring you with a humorous outlet. 🙂


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