Being a horror writer, I specialize in situations that are less than ideal for my characters. Scary, creepy, spooky, downright terrifying? Great. I can do any of those, no problem. But I also have scenes that are drawbacks; I talked a couple of weeks ago about romance and how it's a stumbling block for me, something that I hesitate to write because I don't want to seem too cheesy or corny. It is a part of life, so it needs to go in the book, just like everything else.
I've worked through the romance block and am handling it pretty well, I think. Of course that's something I'll have to review when the first draft is completed and has had a chance to breathe. But there's something else I've been thinking about, something that's been on my mind a lot recently as I've been edging towards the ending of my horrific little tale. I've hinted at some of the elements of the story: ghosts, peach orchards, telepathy, an old woman who may or may not be a witch. But I don't think I've stressed enough that this story is basically a tale of good vs. evil.
Up until this point, I haven't allowed myself to think about who will be the victor of this battle. I've been concerned with getting the story to this point. I'll be hashing out the details in the next few weeks of what actually happens, and now I'm wondering what each of my readers will (hopefully) be pondering when they get to this point in the book: Who's gonna win this one?
I don't know yet. I'll find out as it's written, I guess... but I'm wondering. And it makes me think of the horror novels I've read, and the way I feel about the way the stories end. I've mentioned that Stephen King is my writing hero. I've read almost everything that man has written, two or three times at least. And more often than not, the good guys win. Terrible things happen, but evil is vanquished. It. Desperation. The Dark Half. Needful Things. Misery. There are endings which aren't so great for the characters, but still, evil is defeated. Firestarter. The Dead Zone. Duma Key. Cujo. Christine. The Shining. Salem's Lot. And then there are the ambiguous endings... where you're not sure what happens to the characters, but you've got a feeling they'll be all right, like in The Tommyknockers, Delores Claiborne, and The Stand. Evil does triumph sometimes, but it's rare - the only one I can think of right now is Pet Sematary. I guess Thinner technically counts in that category, but that's a Bachman book, and Stephen King has said that Bachman is much darker than he usually is.
I don't know who's going to win, but it's going to be an epic battle. I can tell just by the lead-up I've created. I think I know who it's going to be... but we'll just have to see. And I'm wondering, which would my audience prefer? Would they rather have all the loose strings tied up in a neat little package for them, with a traditional Happily Ever After-type ending? Or would they rather it be dark and gritty, but a little more realistic? Or somewhere in between?
Which do you prefer?