How could one make a really sad love-story ending yet make it happy at the same time?
They both die horribly and meet up again in some nice afterlife
That just might work, except I don't do after-life stuff
It would've to be explicit, it could just be a vague "together at last" kind of thing like Wuthering Heights.
Well, what about reincarnation? Do you count that? Because it's not technically "after" life if life never stops going.
Alternatively "we lost everything, but we found each other."
Personally, I think 2/3 of the endings are happy ones.
Yeah, this is exactly what the OP is asking for.
The ending could focus on a happy moment in their past, or the idea that it was all worthwhile despite how it ended, or them heading a moment together and at peace with it ending.
Unless the sad thing is simply that they're breaking up, in which case, ummm... New girlfriend?
But really this kind of thing might be hard to write believably if you've never had much life experience with relationships or loss.
I’m also reminded of the romantic comedy “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World.”
The world ends, but the protagonists happily spend their last moments together.
Was that any good? I remember thinking the previews looked interesting but never checked it out.
Wait, I mean, OMG SPOILERS!!! You dick!
Probably one of the few romantic comedies that I actually liked, so yeah I thought it was cool.
Yeah, I liked that movie too.
These Final Hours is a somewhat more dark version of that.
This is a tricky one. As a reader, I always want to feel satisfied even if the tone is bittersweet. Maybe to tie up loose ends, or convey a strong emotion the rest of the story built up towards. I want to sit back at the end and say "woah, I really felt that."
Something to grasp to bring the whole thing full circle. Depending on the tone of the rest of the story, then having a fun or off-pace ending as everything falls apart can work too. Other people already posted some good examples, so check those out if you have time.
The stories that have affected me the most and really stick with me over time have always have a note of poignancy and the bittersweet somewhere about them. If it's a purely 'happy ending' feel the OP is aiming for, I think those are often overrated, or at least light and fluffy and lacking in emotional weight.
Overwrought, over-the-top depressing stuff similarly loses it's impact, in that it's trying so hard to be sad it loops right back around to ridiculous...
I agree that a satisfying ending is the most important thing, but that's not limited to any particular tone.
I know you posted this four days ago but I don't give a shit.
I'll have to disagree with you that happy endings lack in emotional weight. Just because the emotions are positive ones, doesn't mean that they don't count. Take Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing play. The ending is a happy one, and I couldn't help but smile when I saw it.
Make the main character one of two guys vying for the attention of one girl. The girl likes both of them, but is slowly growing more and more ragged and emotional from trying to pick between the two without hurting anyone.
Ending 1: Talk with her, and let her know that you're fine with whatever she chooses. Actually, nudging her towards the other guy, just to end her suffering, because it hurts more to see her suffering then to not be able to be with her.
Ending 2: The girl goes crazy, and stands at the edge of a roof, with the intentions of ending it all. Both guys are there, and both lunge a her at the same time to stop it from happening, but instead all go over the side. Main character flips himself underneath to cushion her landing, both the girl and the other guy survive, and MC gets a blissful sense of happiness that she's alright, and she doesn't have to choose anymore as MC passes on.
Ending 3: MC gets crazed with desperation to just end her pain and the need to be with her. Kill the other guy, making it look like an accident. MC breaks down and cries to the heavens for forgiveness, but never tells the girl what really happened as they have a happy life.
One of the endings of EndMaster's Necromancer could technically qualify as what you're looking for. I doubt End was trying to focus on romance; it was important enough to be relevant without being so subtle that you could just forget about it.
I always remember Brazil for comparison. In short, the ending has the main char tortured into insanity. Terry Gillam said in a few interviews, that he wanted to write a story where that was the happy ending.
So, in the same vein, an unhappy/happy ending that is/isn't, could be as simple as the phrase "Winning the battle, losing the war", ala Conkers Bad Fur Day - he won the game, and his gf is still dead. Or finding the love of your life, and she's already in a strong relationship, and you have the spine to not fuck up their actual happiness, for your own potential.
Wow. I could've sworn I was hearing unearthly chanting, and then I passed out at my desk for a minute there.
Pretty weird, right?