Tips for Writers: Inspiration on Endings from Jim Butcher

Tuesday night, I attended a Q&A and book signing with Jim Butcher. I went as a fan, not a writer, and most of the questions he answered were fan-based questions about characters and plots. He received a surprising number of questions from people who seemed to want spoilers. (Really? Don’t you want to enjoy making discoveries as they happen?)

One person asked him an interesting question about how the series would eventually end. Apparently, this particular fan has had a lot of bad luck with disappointing endings, particularly in regards to sorcerers. I’m not sure I agreed with his premise, but I was very glad he asked the question, because Jim’s answer helped me figure out what’s been bugging me about the end to my urban fantasy series.

Basically, and please forgive the paraphrasing, by the end of a story, especially an epic journey, the main character should be uniquely qualified to overcome the final challenge.

I love it! Well, I hate that it means I’m going to have to rewrite the last two books in my series from the ground up, but hey, none of them have been published yet anyway. 🙂

It took me a couple of days of thinking to apply the advice to my own story. At first, I wanted to reject the idea because I’m not writing the kind of action/adventure/superhero story he’s been writing. My Cassie Scot series is about a woman coming to accept herself for who she is, and not who she thinks she should be. It’s a romance between her and a man her family hates. Each book is a mystery, and Cassie the detective.

Yet, in my original ending I had her taking on a “big bad guy” almost single-handedly. It doesn’t follow from who she is nor what she can do. It obliterates my points that not everyone has to be the biggest and the baddest thing out there to be a hero. I won’t tell you how I’ve changed the ending, because, as I already said, do you really want spoilers? Suffice to say, it’s better. I have that buzz going on that tells me I’m on the right path. (Or is that just me?)

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