Creating alternate endings

This is cross-posted at The Season.

Gone With the WindI hate Gone With The Wind. Hate it.

I know it’s supposed to be one the all-time greatest films, but I’ve seen it once and as God is my witness, I shall never watch it again.

I was 13 when I watched it. No one had spoiled the ending for me yet. My mom told me it was her favorite film, so we watched it together. After investing quite a bit of my heart in the story…after watching the characters’ painful struggle to grow…the film ended sadly?

Uh uh. Not for me, thanks.

The Romance Writers of America defines romance as having an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending. Perhaps my aversion to sad endings is a sign that I’ve been conditioned by all the romance novels I’ve read. Maybe I’m just naturally someone who loves a happy ending. But in my mind, Rhett and Scarlett stay together in the end. It isn’t a perfect relationship, but they’re perfect for each other and they continue to have a passionate, tempestuous marriage.

They have more children together, not because children are necessary for a happy ending but because Rhett and Scarlett want children again, only this time they won’t use their kids as a weapon against each other. They’ll adore all their kids, but Scarlett will secretly prefer the little boy who takes strongly after Rhett, and Rhett will dote on the little girl who reminds him of Scarlett.

They’ll have to struggle to rebuild their lives, but they’ll rely on each other’s strength and prop each other up when they think they’re going to fail. Their grandsons will fight in the First World War, but they’ll come home safely (and one will bring a sassy French wife with him. Scarlett will hate her.). One of their granddaughters will be an army nurse, and she’ll spend her life fighting for women’s liberation—a cause Rhett supports more vocally than Scarlett.

And, because they’re fictitious, they never die.

What book or film would you give a more optimistic, emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending? Or do you prefer gut-wrenching endings?

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21 Comments

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21 responses to “Creating alternate endings

  1. Ah…Gone with the Wind. I loved the book AND the movie, but I have never thought of it as a romance, at least not in the classic sense. It does not have a happy ending. But it shows the stubborn determination of a group of hard-nosed survivors whose lives ended up being so different from what they’d been brought up to expect. Some became hard and bitter like Scarlett; some became wiser and circumspect, like Rhett. Some faded away into living ghosts, like Ashley. Sometimes love doesn’t win. A great story of how the Civil War changed people, but not a romance.

    But I digress. I would change the ending of Lover Unleashed by JR Ward. My favorite of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, Vishous, got cheated by a half-assed ending and lo these years later I’m still pissed about it!

    • Katrina

      No, I don’t think of Gone with the Wind as a romance, either. But I was expecting it to be because so much of the focus of the story was on their relationship. (And I was a pre-teen.)

      Okay, I’ll confess. I’ve never read any JR Ward novels. But any half-assed ending would piss me right off. I want something definite from my endings unless I know they’re a trilogy. Then I’m somewhat happy to wait, but I’ll expect an ending three-times as kickass as I do for a single novel.

      Does that make me a high-maintenance reader?

  2. Hmm I agree with the Lover Unleashed ending, on the other hand I was pleasantly surprised by Lover Enshrined’s ending because I honestly couldn’t see a happy ending for them most of the book.
    Wuthering Heights for me wasn’t a romance, it was a drama. The original Heathcliff and Cathy were irredeemably selfish people, and the book was magnificantly written but it certainly wasn’t romantic. In my perfect world, Heathcliff would have had at least one iota of affection for his own son and especially Cathy’s daughter, and not conspired to make them both miserable.

    • Katrina

      I’m totally with you, Karen. Maybe it’s because I was a moody, angsty teenager when I read Wuthering Heights, but I loved the ending at the time. Now, though, I think it’d depress the hell out of me. I’ve had to deal with enough selfish people in real life; why do it in my relaxation time?

  3. theveryhungrybookworm

    I think if I were to change an ending, it would be to Charlotte Bronte’s Villette.

    I love happy endings; I find a lot to ponder in the sad endings. I really HATE more than anything in the world the endings that leave you completely hanging. They make me angry.

    • Katrina

      I haven’t read Villette yet, Bookworm. But I agree with you that by far the most frustrating ending is the one that leaves you hanging. Or maybe the worst is the one that feels rushed and unsatisfying, like Suzanne mentions. If I’ve invested time and emotion in characters, I want them to have some sort of settlement.

      Glad you stopped by!

  4. I love happy endings, but what do I write? Stories with bittersweet endings because things can’t get wrapped up all neat into a bow before the series is done. *face palm* LOL!

    I can’t think of any story that I’d change the ending to because I don’t tend to read that way, but yeah, I’d definitely agree with your “Gone with the Wind” take. 🙂

    • Katrina

      Maybe that’s the best of both worlds, Jami. As theveryhungrybookworm pointed out in her comment, sad endings give you something to think about. I often find bittersweet endings give me the satisfaction I want while also making me think about the story long after I put it down.

      Thanks for commenting!

  5. I felt the exact same way at the end of The Breakup. Sure, they had their hilarious breakup fun but they were supposed to get back together at the end! I felt so cheated!

    P.S. Maybe you should write some fan fiction. 😉

  6. “And, because they’re fictitious, they never die.”

    The last time I watched Gone With the Wind was when my parents were trying to keep my sister and I entertained as small children for New Year’s Eve. I don’t remember how the movie actually ended, so I will be replacing it with your ending. Immortal and all.

    • Katrina

      Glad you’re adopting my ending! And your parents had the right idea – it must be one of the world’s longest movies so it probably kept you guys quiet for a long time!

  7. I guess the one book I would LIKE to give a more happy ending to would be Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom, but the problem is, there’s no way I could change the sad ending in the book to a happier one. I would if I could, but I can’t.
    Ashley, aka TheEverydayMuser
    http://www.theeverydaymuser.wordpress.com

  8. haha my mom keeps telling me i should watch that movie..made it through…ummm… 5 minutes… and nope couldnt do it. i agree though happy endings all the way. i have a huge problem with authors like steven king who kill off all their characters time after time… thats the easy way out! I have been working on a couple different books and the hardest thing for me is the ending. Why is it so easy to kill everyone off than it is to make a happy ending? *sigh*

  9. I had the same experience with Gone With The Wind, but the book version. It was awful. I listened to the first half on my work commutes, then when I realized my library didn’t have the second half on tape I snagged the book and devoured it over several evenings. After reading the ending, I felt crushed. I had invested so much of my self in this woman! It’s the mark of a great novel, to draw you in, but I don’t love all great novels.
    I think the reason it was so devastating was, the entire time, they come so close to admitting they care for each other. Or in Scarlett’s case, realizing. It’s pages and pages of an elaborate dance and at the end the orchestra house burns down.

  10. I love both the movie and the book although I was constantly frustrated with their relationship. Why can’t we all just get along?! 😉
    Have you read Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley? Scarlett and Rhett’s relationship still continues to frustrate but you get a more “romance novel” feel. It’s been a while since I read it so I can’t exactly remember how it ends but I think I felt satisfied.
    I really liked the Black Dagger Brotherhood books until the most recent one. Plus I kept getting all the titles confused and could never remember which one was which.

    • Katrina

      I haven’t read Scarlett, but I remember considering reading it when it first came out. I think it was when I was studying English lit and didn’t have time to read for pleasure. At least it sounds like the author kept up the theme of frustrating relationships!

  11. Pingback: Interview with Shannon Stacey – and giveaway! | Reader, I created him

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