Last week I talked a little about the romance genre, and I was reminded of one of the tropes that is characteristic of that genre. That is the "happily ever after" or at least "happy for now" ending for the hero/heroine. My question is do we need that in every genre?
My opinion is no we don't. There doesn't have to be a HEA or a HFN in other genres. In horror there generally isn't one to speak of, at least that I've noticed not being an aficionado of that particular genre. But in fantasy and sci fi, the two genres I primarily write in, what are the requirements for endings?
Two of my stories I have endings that can go either way. I can make them a HFN ending or I can totally screw with the reader and kill off my darlings. I'm leaning towards killing off my darlings, because that's not something I've seen a lot of. But my problem is how is that going to affect the reader? Are they going to read the rest of my books? Would that be a betrayal to my readers/fans if I killed off the main characters they've grown attached to in the books?
That's the biggest question as an author that I have to ask: do I need it? Do I need a HEA/HFN to keep my readers? Or can I get away with doing what I'm thinking and making it a tragically heroic ending for the characters in question? Well, one of them at least. I know in one of my sci fi series the ending I have planned for one of my main characters is rather ambiguous at best but still a valid ending because it leaves some hope.
All this rambling still leads to this one question: in fantasy and sci fi, do we need a HEA/HFN ending for the main characters?