Reason #6: WEB—Your Ending Doesn’t Have It
6 REASONS YOUR BOOKS AREN'T SELLING--and how Universal Fantasy can help
Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t watched Encanto or the first season of The Bear and Heartstopper, and they’re on your TBW list—please scroll super fast past the Spoiler Alert Section Warning.
Here’s the number one issue I run into when it comes to butter: Execution.
Listen, I’m a big fan of slathering butter over everything. Put as much butter in your book as your tummy can stand.
However, butter for butter’s sake can only take you so far.
The real gold is in execution.
So, here’s a buttery Wounded Hero plot we see in romance all the time.
· Beast/Boss/Billionaire/Bad Boy is being an alphahole.
· Beauty/Beleaguered Employee/Not-Rich Person/Good Girl lands on his radar.
· For some Buttery Reason they are pushed together.
· They begin to fall in love.
· Something plotty happens that tears them apart and puts them back together again (huge misunderstanding gets cleared up after she runs, someone gets kidnapped and must be saved, [insert whatever Black Moment and Resolution scene you want here].
· And voila, Dude’s all fixed.
· They lived happily ever after.
· The end.
I personally love to read and write this plot. It has tons of built-in butter, including Bully Really Likes You, Fixer Upper, and He Changes For Yor.
But let’s try that plot with well-executed butter.
Dudes’ being an alphahole for a really buttery reason (wound, etc.).
Love helps him heal or become the opposite of an alphahole to the heroine for a specific reason that relates to and heals that wound.
This isn’t just Wound butter and Love Heals butter, it’s a Specific Love Butter Heals a Specific Wound Butter.
Here’s how this can work in one of my favorite Tropes: Family Makes Up.
General Healed Family Relationship Butter Example: Problematic family member confesses to the main character the understandable reason they were problematic, then apologizes to the main character. The main character understands and forgives the family member. They hug.
Spoiler Alert Section Warning – (scroll until you see “End of Spoilers”)
Well Executed Healed Family Butter Example: In Encanto, the heroine, Mirabel—the only powerless member of the magical Madrigal family—takes her disapproving and steely abuela Alma to the river where their family’s original trauma happened. She receives the full story of what happened there—and telling that story at the place where it happened finally allows her grandmother to find healing. Mirabel not only proves herself worthy but heals her family’s intergenerational trauma with a hug given for a very specific (and well-foreshadowed with mystery butter) reason.
This is literally the power she didn’t know she had, the hug she was put on this earth to give.
I say “aw!” whenever family members make up, in both fantasy and real life.
I straight-up bawled while watching this scene in the theater. It was so bad, my then-eight-year-old youngest twin patted me on the back and asked if I was alright. That’s what well-executed butter will do. Make you bawl in public and then tell all your adult friends why they just have to watch this Disney movie.
We’ll get into the details about how to execute butter even better than you already do in future posts. But for now, let’s just call well-executed butter WEB.
WEB is Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick being called a dinosaur and then going on to prove he’s still relevant.
WEB is Carmen needing money in the first episode of The Bear to keep his estranged dead brother’s restaurant going and getting it in the season finale when he finally, finally cooks the spaghetti recipe his brother left behind for him.
WEB is Charlie Spring being kept in the shadows by the furtive, dark-haired, gaslighty boy he’s kissing in the first episode of Heartstopper….Then, in the final season one episode being asked by the honest, ginger, ultra-sincere Nick to be his OFFICIAL BOYFRIEND. If you live in my new Florida neighborhood, you could probably hear me squeeing over this WEBy scene from blocks away.
In Encanto, the WEB butter is The Hug That Ends Generational Trauma.
In Top Gun, it’s The Mission Only a 57-Year-Old Navy Pilot (that guy they called a dinosaur) Can Pull Off.
In Heartstopper, it’s Being Chosen as an Official Boyfriend.
END OF SPOILERS
This isn’t just butter. It’s the butter our main characters specifically need. And when you serve WEB, oh my gosh do readers run out into those real and social media streets to tell everyone: YOU MUST EAT THIS STORY.
LAST ASSIGNMENT: Look at your current WIP. Do you know exactly what kind of butter your character needs? Are all of your main characters getting the butter they specifically need during their wrap-up? What does this butter look like? Write it out in Title Caps.
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