This or that?

So I have this plot thing that I can’t figure out because I’m too indecisive, help me please?

I have a character who has been denied something she has a right to (belonging and acceptance among her people) all her life. She is at the point where she obsesses over it but it hurts her to think about not having it. She ends up going on this long ass journey that shows her another life is possible (acceptance elsewhere but among people that are not her own).

Eventually she returns to her people and is offered what she has wanted her entire life. She is about to be given the thing she has wanted but at the last minute decides she doesn’t want it and goes a different route.

Is that a cop out? Is it a big giant eff you to the reader? Would you be mad if the thing the character wanted ends up becoming her big life lesson?

I could write either because I love the outcome of both of them, but I can’t decide :rofl:

  • Acceptance among her own
  • Acceptance among others

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Somehow it seems fitting that she returns those who initially accepted her. I suspect that her own people have only chosen to finally accept her for their own selfish reasons.


It depends on why her people first denied her but then start accepting her. How has she changed? How have they changed? Honestly, either ending can be a great story, if it’s supported by good character building and development.

That’s the point of most coming of age lit!


I agree that this is important, perhaps the crucial point.

This makes it sound as if she’s the source of the problem, that her unrealistic expectations alienated her from her group.

But if she goes on a mega quest and returns to gain that acceptance despite finding others that served as better company than her people, it sounds like she was actually fond of them.

So I don’t know what to make of this situation. Either can work though.

The island she lives on is an island of elemental elves who are strongly connected to the land my protagonist was one of 3 to survive a massive landslide that wiped out her village and because she was only little she is the only one still living. Because of that and the time that has passed she is now considered bad luck by many, she has also failed the Trials of Light that leads to a ritual that bonds the elves to the land and their people. Her “people” reject her because many of them feel she should have died too, her surviving isn’t considered a blessing…if that makes sense?

Through her journey she changes a lot and now that I think about it more I think going back to her village to seek acceptance makes her realise she doesn’t belong there with them which leads her to not partake in the next Trials of Light.

You’re right! Ligit didn’t even realise this :rofl:

She’s been conditioned to think she is the problem which has planted the seeds of self doubt. She has experienced it from a young age and is finding it hard to find reasons why she isn’t the problem.

Not necessarily fond of them but the connection to the land and where she came from is really strong in her. Having watched others succeed where she has failed also drives it home that being accepted among her kind will mean she truly does belong there.

Really not sure if any of that makes sense. I’ve had it in m head for so long that it’s hard to summarise it

It is not a cop out, it is a coming-of-age story. Learning that the thing you wanted as a child isn’t what you thought it was, and isn’t worth the sacrifice you would need to make to attain it is an important moral in those tales.

Especially if the character obsesses over it, the reader would expect them to eventually either reject it, or attain it to tragic effect. Obsessions are bad news.

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I only asked if it was a cop out cause that’s what I’ve been told about another quite similar plot I had previously. After considering what she goes through I realised it’s a coming of age. I don’t often read them so didn’t immediately jump to mind when I asked this morning :blush:

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IDK. It’s not a “cop out”, but it is kind of a contradiction. The general point of a coming of age event is reach adult status in your society. But if the result of your coming of age quest is rejecting your society, your character is kind of undermining the entire point of the story.

Kind of like if your hero’s coming of age quest is slaying a dragon, but the hero tames the dragon instead and burns down their village. Okay, not exactly the same…

Crap I think I pressed the wrong one grrrrrr. I think the acceptance among others is more important. If her own can’t take her for who she was before she went on the journey, she shouldn’t be content by them accepting who she is now.

It’s like that meme. “If you can’t handle my worst, you don’t deserve me on my best.”

I think (and that’s my opinion) that if you make her happy with the acceptance she is offered by her own at the end (that she didn’t have all her life), then it feels like the journey was for nothing. Like it had no purpose.

While if you make her turn the offer down, it feels like the journey has taught her that self-worth comes from within. The thought of her going on that journey and then when she comes back realizing she doesn’t need their acceptance and turning it down when it’s offered to her, feels immensely powerful. I know that an end like that would make me super satisfied when the story’s over. She realizing her own worth, knowing that she doesn’t need them to accept herself and knowing that others do too, feels so amazing. Would go with that one. Acceptance among others.

And I’m very sorry for accidentally clicking the wrong choice. I think that was me. I’m not even sure anymore. I forgot. Good luck with your book!

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Hey, even if you picked the other one you still left me a kick-ass comment that is insightful for me :slight_smile:

I think I’ve decided that in the end, her happy ending is turning down the offer from the people who never truly accepted her and returning to the people who accepted her for who she was. You’re right in that it feels powerful, for me as a writer I would feel more satisfied too if she pretty much flips the bird at them and leaves :joy:

Thanks again for voting and commenting :slight_smile:

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This made me lol

This is a true point, especially with older literature. I think contemporary culture leans towards the idea of making your own tribe/family that accepts you for who you are, though, rejecting the society that first rejected you for not conforming in whatever fashion.

Really, I think it’s author’s choice here about what kind of story you want to tell. You just have to support it either way. If you follow the classic Hero’s Journey, the end stage is returning with gifts that benefit society–in this case, that gift would have to be something that makes her people realize they were wrong about her all along, so that in the end society has grown and evolved into something better (which we all want to see happen in the real world, am I right?) I would avoid having their acceptance hinge on the way she’s changed during her quest–like deciding they can put up with her flaws because now she makes them look good, or because she’s fallen more in line with their expectations in some way.

Or she can see that they’re never going to change and go off with her new companions.

You could even have it both ways–she can bring growth to her original community but still decide her new community is where she wants to be.

Either way, the choice depends on what you want to do as an author, and as long as you make it feel true, it’s not a cop out.

BTW, I really like the explanation for why they rejected her–fear is the motivation behind so many negative cultural attitudes, and having her considered bad luck for surviving is such a nice twist on that basic behavior.


There is a great coming of age story where the quest is to slay a dragon but instead the hero tames it and burns down the society: How to train your Dragon.

He doesn’t literally burn down his village, but he destroys their fundamental belief structure and way of life. He entirely rejects the beliefs and traditions of his society. The happy ending in it is that his society ends up doing the same.

Yes, but he changes his mind in the first third of the story, not in the last ten minutes.

In my opinion, it would be better if you character decided not to be given the thing she has wanted. It might be even easier to show growth of the character this way. How has she changed? What influences made her change? What affected her final decision?
But yes, as mentioned in other comments its is also important to consider the original reason why she wasn’t accepted in the first place.


Thank you for your response :slight_smile:

Her growth will show through the story, if I can write it well enough. How she is in the start will hopefully be a shadow of who she ends up being by the end of the book.

The reasons for her not being accepted come out soon and when it’s brought to light with her it’s something she will have to ponder and deal with on her journey of self discovery.

Much of the story focuses on the rejection by her own, how she struggles to cope with it, how she learns to accept that and how she deals with acceptance of and by others. Despite the deep spiritual connection the elves of the island have to their ancestral lands she learns that she will not die and doesn’t have to let herself be defined by that…even if it’s frowned upon by this one group of elves.