In fit of writing procrastination I scanned through my published or soon-to-be-published stories, mostly looking at how they ended.
What did I discover?
Seven of the stories had unpleasant endings for the protagonist (or ambiguous endings that some readers, I think, would take as unpleasant) although one of those stories would technically be considered a happy ending by many readers as the protagonist is a real jerk.
Eight stories have what I consider to be a happy ending.
My early stories almost always had negative endings. This is ok sometimes — some stories have to end unpleasantly, if they are to end naturally. But I was finding that often I was writing the “oh my god that’s horrible” ending just for the sake of writing it that way and in the last couple years have tried to end stories a little more positively.
As a reader I don’t have a preference over how stories end though if the protagonist meets a cruel fate after trying hard to right their situation I’ll be a little disappointed unless it really feels ‘right’.
What do you think?