Writing Books/viable plot



My question has to do with the viability of the ending of my novel.  

The gist of the ending is:

a group of friends who committed and covered up a childhood crime are gathered in a house on the Oregon Coast during a severe storm.

I originally wanted the friend the group tried to protect in childhood, to be forced to sacrifice herself, as an adult, for the friends.

As it stands, she leaves the house during the storm and is attacked by a cougar.

Readers have suggested having something happen during the storm so she is forced to sacrifice herself in some way then.

I'm trying an alternate ending where the antagonist comes to the house (albeit during a severe storm) exposes secrets, demands even more hush money, and then some type of altercation breaks out and the friend is killed in the struggle trying to protect the others.

After reading a book on craft that stated writers most often don't take enough risks with their stories, I'm now torn between the cougar and an alternate ending.

It's driving me a little nuts right now and I'm just curious how any of this sounds to someone unfamiliar with the manuscript?

Hi, Charlotte!

The problem I've got with the cougar issue is that a cougar wouldn't be out and hunting during a severe storm. It would likely be holed up in a cave somewhere---mainly because the cat's PREY would also be under cover.

I'm all about sacrificing characters for the good of the plot, but is it citical that particular character die? Why? It would probably be easier overall to have her seriously wounded by the antognist so there can be the reunion at the end to bring home the sacrifice.

What's your reasoning for her death. She might need to (and some stories really do need it) but to throw it in haphazardly will ruin a strong ending.

Let me know and I'll try to help.


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Cathy Clamp


I'm happy to answer questions about any aspect of writing novels, from the beginning kernel of an idea through completion. I can help with writing a query letter and synopsis to an agent or editor. I can explain publishing terminology and acronyms. I can also assist with questions about verifying the credentials of agents/publishers and how to proceed once you've been accepted for publication. I can teach the rules of formatting a manuscript, creating viable plots, characterization and flow in the following genres: romance, science fiction, fantasy, thrillers, suspense, horror, women's fiction, mainstream and mystery.


I'm a USA Today bestselling author of urban fantasy and paranormal romance for Tor/Forge Books. Along with a co-author, I've published fifteen novels (combination of mass market and trade softcover) since 2003, and have contracts for four more books through 2011.

Romance Writers of America, Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, Western Outdoor Writers, Horror Writers of America.

Tor/Forge Books, Western Reflections Publishing, BenBella Books, Running Press, Wild Child Publishing. Many others.

My educational background is limited to real life experience of publishing novels commercially for the past five years.

Awards and Honors
USA Today bestseller, Waldenbooks Mass Market Paperback Top 20 bestseller, Nielsen BookScan Top 20 bestseller, RT BOOKreviews Career Achievement Award winner, 2009, Book Buyers Best Award for Paranormal, Romantic Times Best Werewolf Novel, Write Touch Readers Award, EVVY Best Historical Chronicle Award, The Lories Best Paranormal. Many others.

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