Erm…Where’d the Happiness Go?


I adore science fiction. Star Trek, Doctor Who, Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov…fantastic stuff. But if you’ll notice, only one out of that list is a currently running affair. The main problem I’ve found with sci-fi–and really fiction in general these days–is that it’s downright depressing. Whether it be a dystopian sci-fi pick or an angsty YA, most of the popular novels, movies, and shows at the moment are dark. Personally, I find it sad. Here are the primary things about the darker, grittier writing that I don’t agree with.

Write this! Well…perhaps without the butterflies.

1. Murder! As you’ve probably guessed, I’m one of those people who boycott authors who kill off their protagonists at the end of the book, regardless of how epic the plot and the climax may have been. Why? Because it broke the trust I gave the author when I chose to spend my time in the world he/she had created. As writers, we create our characters to become living, breathing souls in the minds of our readers. If you’re good, they come alive and wind up as their latest BFF (Ugh. I’d hoped to never use that abbreviation.). Killing them off is just downright cruel, and while it works for some authors, it still alienates certain readers.

Also, it’s not always the best business decision. Sure, if it’s a story written purely for the art of it, then do whatever you want. But if you plan on working the business angle of the writing business, then it doesn’t really make sense to kill the golden goose while your fans are still lapping him up.

2. Despairingly Ever Afters Granted, I don’t think every book should end with “and they got married, Snidely Antagonist was deservingly jailed, and John Protagonist was crowned king of Novelland.” But all the same, I don’t particularly like reading an ending where the characters are in worse trouble than they were when they started. Even if they appear to be at peace with their situation by the end, I’m not! I’ve read several books that essentially ended with the character deciding that even though their circumstances were terrible, they should be content. Finis! The End! Wasn’t that a great moral?

No.

It wasn’t. I do like the occasional bittersweet ending, but an ending without hope isn’t an ending, it’s a death sentence. Even with the bittersweet ones, there is more emphasis on your characters picking themselves up, dusting themselves off, and moving on to other things.

3. A World Without HopeUm…please don’t kill me, but I hate dystopian novels. Stories set in a world where there appears to be no hope for humanity confuse me. Why would anyone want to read about that? Evidently (the evidence being a certain blockbuster film and trilogy), a lot of people do, but for the life of me, I can’t figure out why. Personally, I read fiction to be entertained. Uplifted. Inspired. Dystopian universes do none of the above. There are exceptions, wherein the world shows obvious signs of change by the end of the book, but there are also some that show none whatsoever. The characters fight and struggle and change, but their world remains as cold and disengaging as it was at the beginning.

The most prominent thing about the angst trend that I don’t like is that you can’t have all of popular culture turning dark without repercussions on the culture itself. I know, most of said books have academically brilliant messages, most of them smart little warnings about what could happen to a society unchecked by its people. I also know there have always been dark or sad books in the literary world, but never in larger profusion than today and never for so young an audience. As a teen myself, that worries me. A generation raised on vampires and killing games doesn’t sound like a particularly hopeful one. The generations before us were raised on stories (in both film and fiction) where the bad guy always got his comeuppance and the good guy always won, and look at what they accomplished. Amazing things. If we want to do just as well (or better), I think it’s time we try out a little hope for a change.

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Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “Erm…Where’d the Happiness Go?

  1. Prilla

    I so agree. My parents got onto me the other day for not reading anything happy. Fortunately, there’s hardly anything that makes me depressed. XD

    • XD It’s hard to find anything to read that is happy. There are so few light books that also have a decent plot and characters. Apparently, you can’t have one without the other. It’s maddening.

  2. Prilla

    If you ever come across a happy book, let me know. I-… Wait. What is that ungodly illustration next to my name…? O_o

    • *dies laughing*(I actually did burst out laughing at the thought of the artist being disgusted by the little creature) I liked the little monsters better than the abstract patterns for people without gravatars.

  3. Prilla

    IT’S UGLY!!!!!!!! (not to mention poorly drawn) HOW DO I CHANGE IT!?!?!?

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