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Brainstorming ideas for a Happy Ending NOT involving marriage + kids for the heroine? (1 Viewer)

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MorganaPendragon25

Senior Member
Too many times in my life have I read a story, watched a movie or a TV series, where the heroine always wind up getting married and having kids. Yes, I realize that perhaps to the majority of the world marriage and kids is seen as the "universal form of healing" after a big quest is complete. It's been done so many times, too many times, and I find that type of ending rather cliche and not original. I love reading endings where it doesn't involve the heroine getting married and her not having kids.

Let's brainstorm some general ideas of what a happy ending would look like for a heroine who has been on a tough, rigorous quest and deserves an ending that she sees as "healing" to her and obviously not involving getting married and having kids. If you care to list some examples you've come across in books you've read, that would greatly be appreciated too! :)
 

indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
She can start a business.
Return to college to work toward an advanced degree.
Lots of ways to be happy outside of a relationship.

Oh - and she could write a book that becomes a bestseller.
 

Gofa

Friends of WF
Find an old love letter
receive an apology tied to some denial that re-opens a door
Offer to teach somewhere with great prestige or job offer
write a hook early on in the novel that she pulls away from but in the end returns to
in the beginning say her dog dies in end she goes gets new dog or one turns up
the elder woman in community recognises your lead as her replacement and tells her of the many benefits
some one she loved and has died turns up as a ghost as her bonus spin for winning
 

Tiamat

Patron
I feel like sometimes the happy ending is specifically NOT marriage and kids, if that's what she wants.
 

Olly Buckle

Mentor
Patron
Having completed her quest drops straight into another, cue second book.

Eyes opened by her success ditches useless man and independently heads out into the world seeking adventures new.

Like Jerry Cornelius, mutates into a hermaphrodite being "It's a very tasty world out there."

Discovers the woman she loves.
 
I feel like you've asked this exact same question before. I remembered listing off some ideas for you, so I went back to the old thread, and yeah, it's the same question, rephrased. It seems like you're really struggling with this, so maybe some context would help. Is this a fantasy world? What sort of desires/needs are set up in the story that could be satisfied in a happy ending? For example, say you set up that she's afraid of being useless and wants to find her place in society. Then a happy ending would involve a satisfaction of that desire + alleviation of that fear, for example, her becoming an important leader or mentor or creating her own place in some way.

Maybe if you just start writing the story, your protagonist's wants and needs will start to come out, and then you can figure out how to weave the ending out of those desires. Often, I don't know how a story will end when I start writing it. Maybe as you start writing, your protagonist will tell you her ending. I mean, stories are structured differently. Some are more like lines, where the protagonist fights through obstacles to get somewhere (physically or spiritually) and the happy ending is her arrival. Some are more circular, where the protagonist ends up back where she started, but now stronger, having learned something -- the happy ending is how she's changed as a person.

Here's another thought: maybe, start with what you would consider a happy ending. G. K. Chesterton tends to marry off all his characters by the end of his books, probably because he himself had a very happy marriage! So think about what you dream of, what you think is important and satisfying. I'm not saying your protagonist should be exactly like you, but it might be a good starting point.

I can also give you examples though! ( : Lots of books where female characters don't have kids or get married.

Let's brainstorm some general ideas of what a happy ending would look like for a heroine who has been on a tough, rigorous quest and deserves an ending that she sees as "healing" to her and obviously not involving getting married and having kids. If you care to list some examples you've come across in books you've read, that would greatly be appreciated too! :)

The Chronicles of Narnia - Lucy
In the first book (The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe), the story is more circular: Lucy is honored with queenship, then comes back to the real world after her adventures in Narnia. Her happy ending is how she's grown from her experience, and (best of all!) the near-promise that one day she will return to the same place. But when you take the whole series, her ending is even more happy: she and her siblings [spoiler so I put it white text, highlight to see] end up in what is essentially heaven.

The Chronicles of Narnia - Jill
And from that day forth things changed for the better at Experiment House, and it became quite a good school.And Jill and Eustace were always friends.
Friendship, and a school (that was horrible at the beginning of the book) made pleasant. It doesn't have to be complicated.

This Present Darkness - Bernice Krueger
Being able to let go of a pain that has haunted her (her sister's death), covering an important story that is finally resolved (she's a journalist), and most importantly, salvation.

A Cry of Stone - Rose Wabos
This ending isn't exactly happy; it's bittersweet. But I thought it was a good example of a more symbolic ending. She has found a stone on the beach in the shape of a palette (she's an artist) and takes it as a sign from God that she is not forgotten by him. Then she passes on the stone to a little girl that she meets, and has a vision (of Mary, I think?), again reassuring her she is not forgotten or alone.

Descent Into Hell - Pauline
She took two steps, paused and looked back. "Thank you for heaven," she said. "Good night."
Charles Williams sets up two symbolic cities: Gomorrah, which represents isolation from other beings, utter selfishness, and illusion; and Zion, which represents a constant exchange of love between beings (substitution), and 'joy in fact.' While Wentworth, the other MC, descends further into Gomorrah, Pauline learns 'The Doctrine of Substituted Love,' is able to meet her greatest fear (her doppelganger), and take on the burden of fear from her ancestor, who is burned at the stake (yes, it's quite esoteric and I don't fully understand it). Long story short, by the end of the book, she is going to London for a job, but, spiritually, she is entering into Zion. "It seems so funny to be talking about trains in the easier circles of ... heaven," she says, as she is waiting for the train to take her to London. So her happy ending is that she has learned how to love and is entering into true joy, and will only enter it more and more as her life goes on.
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
What about she just ends up happy with her life at the end, as it is with no husband and no kids. There are a lot of women who actually have time to read because they don't have a family to look after. You could find a large target market I bet.

I just had lunch with one of my best friends. She is 46, single, no kids. She is one of the happiest people I know. She makes me happy just being around her. I think it's because she is not trying to impress anybody, and she doesn't actually care what anyone thinks about her. She is incredibly successful btw in business. Has the highest financial position in a billion dollar corporation. I think what makes her so special is just that she is so secure with herself. Oh, and she is a voracious reader!

This is a bit of a generalization, but I find many women, who are married with children, living the expected life, have a tendency to compare themselves to others. So when I'm with them, I feel like they are constantly sizing me up to make sure they measure up or are superior...or that their kids are. It feels like they are either being jealous or trying to make me be jealous. I find it really hinders a friendship. I have one friend who has children, the same age as mine. She always and I mean ALWAYS compares the kids. I have repeatedly asked her not to do it, because I think it's disrespectful to the kids...but she can't help herself.


Could you make her more like my single, kidless friend? That she genuinely cares about other people, and is not competitive because she is sooo comfortable in her own skin, that she only wants to make others feel good about themselves.
 

Theglasshouse

WF Veterans
Finds a cure for a sickness. Which could be a conspiracy to keep the cure or medicine to treat it a secret from the world population. This is inspired by conspiracy theories of cancer not having a cure yet. That if they one day discovered it. It could be kept a secret for a long time since it is either a billion or trillion dollar industry. Someone the main character knows in the story has the sickness. Maybe cloned humans are experimented on. While this is happening cloned humans can't reproduce and are made to believe they are orphans. This is inner conflict. Give in to the temptation of greed or succumb to guilt. Could be a moral story that speaks volumes on human selfishness. Lord of the rings used both of these themes. If all else fails borrow from themes of stories you admire. Lord of the rings is one example of many. Use your favorite novel for a possible theme and put it in your story. Use works you admire to inspire you. Critics examine theme. It could be worth a try to emulate a work of fiction you admire.
 
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BornForBurning

Senior Member
Let's brainstorm some general ideas of what a happy ending would look like for a heroine who has been on a tough, rigorous quest and deserves an ending that she sees as "healing" to her and obviously not involving getting married and having kids.
Morgana, hard as this may be to accept, I suspect that the reason you're struggling with this so much is that your heroine is precisely the kind who will find out, perhaps even against her own expectations, that she wants to get married. What does she want? I mean, exactly? Reality: if she's a human, she probably wants love. Not necessarily erotic love, but because eros is arguably the deepest/most vulnerable form of love that two humans are capable of, fiction often revolves around its pursuit (or its avoidance!) The only real way to write a character who isn't pursuing love is to write one who has already found it, or one who is fleeing it. You do not need to have your protagonist pursuing specifically erotic love. But if she is unloved, she will by definition have an unspeakable craving for intimacy that claws at her soul.

By the way, 'friends and wine in your 40s' isn't love.

I think you may have picked a fight you can't win. Humans are programmed to seek intimacy. We crave intimacy. Intimacy requires vulnerability, vulnerability requires us to step outside our own self-expectations. Your protagonist wants to clutch at something, whether it be her husband, her God, or a wine-glass. Btw, what does 'sees as healing to her' even mean? Something is either healing or it isn't. It doesn't matter whether the protagonist 'sees' it as healing one bit. Hey, here's an idea: you mentioned wanting to write this girl as hating her own birthday. Maybe she hates her own birthday because her parents never loved her, and her birthday was a reminder of just how fake the celebrations really were. Eh? Gosh that's so sad though, lol. My birthdays were always great.
 

Annoying kid

Senior Member
The ending should write itself really, based on everything that came before.

But if shes ex military maybe her ending is becoming some vigilante or somehow becoming alot better at her job.
 
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Olly Buckle

Mentor
Patron
Thinking of some ex military I have known. Discovering a raptor (bird of prey), bonding with this wild, savage thing and flying it daily.
 

Tettsuo

WF Veterans
Let's brainstorm some general ideas of what a happy ending would look like for a heroine who has been on a tough, rigorous quest and deserves an ending that she sees as "healing" to her and obviously not involving getting married and having kids. If you care to list some examples you've come across in books you've read, that would greatly be appreciated too! :)
She learns to forgive her parents.

- She overcomes her fears.

- She let's go of a toxic relationship.

- She finally opens up and releases the pain she's been holding onto for years.

- She saves a kid and becomes the child's mom.

- She opens a successful business doing what she loves.

- She finally gives up drink and drugs and gets her life in order.

- She makes a snow angel as a demonstration of her finally being able to find peace.

The options are endless. You just have to pick one that suits your character.
 

MorganaPendragon25

Senior Member
Morgana, hard as this may be to accept, I suspect that the reason you're struggling with this so much is that your heroine is precisely the kind who will find out, perhaps even against her own expectations, that she wants to get married. What does she want? I mean, exactly? Reality: if she's a human, she probably wants love. Not necessarily erotic love, but because eros is arguably the deepest/most vulnerable form of love that two humans are capable of, fiction often revolves around its pursuit (or its avoidance!) The only real way to write a character who isn't pursuing love is to write one who has already found it, or one who is fleeing it. You do not need to have your protagonist pursuing specifically erotic love. But if she is unloved, she will by definition have an unspeakable craving for intimacy that claws at her soul.

By the way, 'friends and wine in your 40s' isn't love.

I think you may have picked a fight you can't win. Humans are programmed to seek intimacy. We crave intimacy. Intimacy requires vulnerability, vulnerability requires us to step outside our own self-expectations. Your protagonist wants to clutch at something, whether it be her husband, her God, or a wine-glass. Btw, what does 'sees as healing to her' even mean? Something is either healing or it isn't. It doesn't matter whether the protagonist 'sees' it as healing one bit. Hey, here's an idea: you mentioned wanting to write this girl as hating her own birthday. Maybe she hates her own birthday because her parents never loved her, and her birthday was a reminder of just how fake the celebrations really were. Eh? Gosh that's so sad though, lol. My birthdays were always great.

You make great points! I would say my heroine is in need of love. Yeah, the whole birthday thing could be a huge deal about her having the opposite of love. I won't rule out her having a romantic partner but I'm against marriage as an institution so it wouldn't be that for her. I think she's both into men and women. The only thing for absolute certainty is her future will never include kids of her own. I think in the end she'll have a fonder appreciation of kids, especially if they look up to her as a role model and she'll find new meaning in her life and serve as a mentor to them.

I appreciate your words here, they helped me out a lot!
 

MorganaPendragon25

Senior Member
She learns to forgive her parents.

- She overcomes her fears.

- She let's go of a toxic relationship.

- She finally opens up and releases the pain she's been holding onto for years.

- She saves a kid and becomes the child's mom.

- She opens a successful business doing what she loves.

- She finally gives up drink and drugs and gets her life in order.

- She makes a snow angel as a demonstration of her finally being able to find peace.

The options are endless. You just have to pick one that suits your character.

Great ones! I'd say my heroine could be a whole bunch of those you listed! She is a very complex woman! Thanks for sharing your ideas!
 
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