Why Jesse Stern is my writing hero

(ETA: For NCIS fans who missed Season 8’s Enemies Foreign/Enemies Domestic two-parter, beware of spoilers)

Wow. Last night’s NCIS ep still has me speechless. Jesse Stern is the master. He took loose ends that have been dangling for years in a bunch of different storylines and wrapped them all up in one package that was so well-crafted it seemed inevitable.

Several years ago, while I was working on my failed mystery novel, a friend and I got into a discussion and he proclaimed that he never read fiction because “you get to the end and they make it all up.” Sad to say, at the time that was a pretty good description of the ending to my book – one reason I scrapped it after rewrite six or seven. That’s why I’ve always disagreed with the assessment. IMHO,¬†good¬†fiction is good precisely because the ending doesn’t seem made-up. It seems like that’s what had to happen. When all the plot threads and characterization come together to make an ending that seems like it had to happen the way it did, the story has succeeded, no matter what medium is used to tell it.
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