Endings

Having just finished the last book in my Stoneways fantasy trilogy (tentatively titled The Magicians’ Daughter), I’ve been thinking about how important a strong finish is.  Wrapping up a series is always difficult: in addition to tying up all the loose ends in the narrative, you have to make sure all the characters’ individual arcs are pulled neatly together as well.  (And it’s not a bad idea to leave a few openings for potential sequels, too.) 

The Stoneways ending was especially tricky, however, because of a challenge a friend of mine issued to me after I finished the first book, Reiffen’s Choice.  I had written one earlier piece set in this world, a novella that had nothing to do with the novels.  (Note to aspiring authors – never try to start a career with a novella.  They’re hard enough to sell even when you’re published.) 

After reading Reiffen’s Choice my friend told me I had to connect it back to the original novella.  “No way,” I said.  “They have nothing to do with each other.”  “Exactly,” he replied.  “That’s why it would be really fantastic if you could manage it.” 

Not being someone who easily ignores a dare, especially a good one, I decided my friend was right.  I spent months trying to figure out how the stories could be connected when none of the characters were the same and the events in the two tales were thousands of years apart.  But the great thing about fantasy is that you can get away with just about anything you want, as long as you make what happens something that could logically occur given the magical and motivational constraints of your world.  I found a way to do it, trimmed away the absurdities, and wrote the story. 

The trilogy was better for it.  As it turned out, connecting the two tales provided me with a terrific way to drive the plot of the third book.  It forced me to be creative about what was motivating my characters and the sorts of ripples their actions would cause to their world.  Not too creative, mind you.  As noted above, if you stretch the boundaries of your world and characters too far, there’s a good chance you’ll lose the reader.  (See James Alan Gardner’s recent post on the subject of the Idiot Move.) 

I think I wrote a much better book because of my friend’s challenge, but I won’t know what readers think until The Magicians’ Daughter comes out.  In the meantime, if you like the series and are looking forward to the conclusion (due from Tor in 6-9 months, I think), don’t read the novella.  Too many spoilers. 

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  1. 1. Scarlett

    I’ve got to say I like endings that tie two or more stories together… it makes it feel as though there is a greater (and deeper) picture – mirroring life, which often displays the same mixture of connection and randomness.

  2. 2. S.C. Butler

    Scarlett – Hopefully that’s what I’ve managed to pull off. It does make everything seem much deeper and more interconnected when seemingly disparate elements are tied together at the end of a story.

Author Information

S.C. Butler

Butler is the author of The Stoneways Trilogy from Tor Books: Reiffen's Choice, Queen Ferris, and The Magician's Daughter. Find out what Reiffen does with magic, and what magic does with him... Visit site.

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