Okay, Star Trek kinda got me thinking about this one as well.
Last night I dreamed about a boy and his pet stork. At one point they are stranded and the stork saves the boy by fishing for them both. It was a beautiful, realistic dream. The stork was a real bird that was inseparable from the boy. Visually, it was very cinematic.
The trouble starts near the end of the dream when my writer brain butted in. Storks aren’t long lived. The end of summer and the end of the dream should also coincide with the end of the stork. So I wrote in a poignant death for the pet stork.
That woke me up. I left the boy grieving at the grave of his pet. I couldn’t go back to sleep. I finally realized why – I had ruined the story. It should have ended with the boy and the stork daily reuniting after school. Time passing and new hurdles but life going on.
I rewrote it in my head and went back to sleep.
Lesson: leave the thing alone. It is okay to let the story end where it should. It is okay to end in the happy place in the middle rather than force it to the logical end. Happy endings aren’t unrealistic unless written badly. If all endiings were sad or depressing humanity would have committed mass suicide long since.
Good is just as realistic as bad. Dark and gritty are just more depressing, not more realistic.