Monday, August 15, 2011

That Doesn't Make Sense...

Sometimes I’ll be reading a book and start mentally screaming at the main character for overlooking a key piece of information. 

Or for not knowing something that, according to all logical trains of thought, they should know.

Or for reacting in a way that is totally irrational to me.

I’ll scream at the villain when their presence or how they know things is explained…nowhere.

When their reasoning for bringing down the MC is hazy at best. 

I’ll get mad at the setting when things just kind of appear.  Or two seconds ago they were in a cave but now it’s a shack.  Or when I thought it was morning but they start talking about the moonlight.

With all the filters put up by agents and editors and publishing professionals- I can’t help but ask myself ‘How the hell can they let this slip by?  How can the readers who gave this book five starts let this slip by?’

And I think I’ve got the answer. 

Movies and television have trained us to think that lapses in logic and rational are just par for the course in a good story line.

Take Disney shows, for example.  Nobody figures out Miley is Hannah Montana?  Really?  And don’t get me started on the Waverly Place Wizards.  My kids are big fans.  I watched one episode where the brother turns into a werewolf because ‘when you kiss a werewolf, you turn into one’ and then in the next season Alex has herself a werewolf boyfriend who she kisses on a regular basis without turning into one.  And that’s just one inconsistency.  Don’t get me wrong-the witty banter often makes me snort but I honestly feel a little dumber after watching Disney.

Lets face it- things happen in movies because, well, if they didn’t then there wouldn’t be a plot line.  And taking the time to find more logical explanations doesn’t seem to be a top priority. Like in Titanic- I always wondered why Rose doesn’t just move her ass over so Jack can get on the raft?  Why hold his hand and sing, all relaxed like, while he slowly freezes into a blue popsicle?  I thought she loved him, dammit!

I stopped watching ‘Pretty Little Liars’ because the way they are constantly jumping to the wrong conclusion and the evil ‘A’ seems to be everywhere at once with no logical explanation drives me nuts.  Even when we find out who ‘A’ is- they’ll never be able to explain how she managed to see and hear everything she did, unless she happens to be in the CIA.  Give me a break.

Why do soap operas contain mutant children who age three times faster than normal human beings?  Like Stephanie Mayer’s Renesme – soap kids seem to reach breeding age in about six years of life.  Yuck!

Why do all historical movies have people speaking in English accents?  No matter where the movie takes place?  Roman Empire soldiers, Desert peasants in Arabia, Egyptian kings, Greek warriors?  All of them sounding like they’re straight off the cast of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  Come on.

Can you think of any movies/books/tv shows that exhibit flagrant lapses in logic?

31 comments:

Jessica Bell said...

LOLOL!!! Lots!!! Don't get me started ...

mooderino said...

I like that aliens also speak English. Convenient.

mood
Moody Writing
@mooderino

Miranda Hardy said...

Yes, some things make you scratch your head and yell "really?". Makes me wonder how they get away with it.

Gina said...

LOL, the accent thing drives me crazy too! Like in the Lion King, why does the evil uncle Lion (Jafar?) have a British accent, and no one else does? And how can Simba have such a girly voice when his father sounds like James Earl Jones? Or in shows where twins switch places, how does no one EVER know the difference? It drives me crazy!

Rebecca Bradley said...

I actually laughed out loud at Jack being a blue popsicle. I'm glad the house is empty.

It does seem strange to find these inconsistencies when it seems so difficult to get anything past an agent. Mind you, I'm not surprised they crop up, I thought I'd be able to remember my own wip from beginning to end, after all, I wrote it. But no - during a read through I found a great big gaping plot hole!

It's definitely all eyes on deck or you're going to be a popsicle.

Laura Pauling said...

Movies def. can get away with this easier than books. I thought in Titanic when they both tried to float on the raft it capsized. That's why Jack stayed in the water. He sacrificed for her. But I haven't seen it for a few years. Maybe with tv shows I'm way more forgiving and expect the unbelievable b/c that stuff doesn't bother me.

But inconsistency in a book does bother me.

Old Kitty said...

Erm.. John Wayne as Genghis Khan. Tony Curtis as some slave person in Spartacus...! LOL!!Oh I can't think of more modern examples - sorry! LOL!

Take care
x

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I believe the word is 'contrived' and I hate it. Forcing things to happen just to further the plot annoys me.

Sarah said...

I can't stop laughing about the soap kids thing, because I have always found that kind of perverse. I think a good story keeps these lapses at a minimum. When I'm beta-reading, I will write things like, "you've framed your character up as smart, but when she thinks or does something like this, I question that," for the exact reason you're mentioning (and I expect my betas to do the same thing for me). It pulls me right out of the story when a character seems to be willfully stupid in the service of the writer's construction of the plot.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

My 7 yo is starting to question things while watching movies. She has some very valid points. Sometimes it's done intentionally, and it's funny when you realize this. Other times you're left scratching your head.

I wondered the same thing about the Titanic.

DL Hammons said...

As a mystery writer, I live in constant fear of somebody uncovering what you speak of in my own work. *sigh*

B.E. Sanderson said...

Hubs was watching Kingdom of the Crystal Skull last night and I think I was driving him nuts with my constant 'oh, like that would ever happen' remarks. I can only suspend my disbelief so far - even for Harrison Ford. How that writing ever got past the watchdogs I'll never know. I've read books with huge gaps in logic and wondered the same thing. :shrug: We may never know.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

OMG -- Don't get me started on LOST! I invested years watching that show, and the final season made me so angry, I spit when I talked about it for days! There were so many lapses in logic, so many unanswered questions, so many plot lines that were dropped without explanation.

I maintain that I could have written a better final season that tied everything up. I don't know why they didn't ask for my help. ;)

Theresa Milstein said...

You are SO right.

First, I'm just like you. Ask my daughter how frustrated she gets when I rant at audiobooks.

Second, nobody saw the connection between Clark Kent and Superman? Not the woman who worked with Kent and flew with Superman? Measly black glasses made all the difference? That bugged me when I was only 7.

Anita said...

I can only think of a few that ARE logical! :) This is a great post...contrary to popular opinion, readers are not stupid.

Cynthia Lee said...

I used to have a friend who stopped watching the X-files because Scully kept trying to find a rational explanation for the crazy-ass @#*% that happened every week.

Didn't she notice that every week she was faced with yet another inexplicable or disgusting monster? Eventually, she would be forced to abandon the rationality.

Kathryn said...

I don't even want to think about it. As a former Days of Our Lives addict (been clean since '04), what drove me bonkers other than the kids growing quickly was how things in conversations got repeated ALL. THE. TIME.

I agree with the comment above about aliens speaking English. So true.

Eric W. Trant said...

Now that's why I don't watch television. I see it collaterally, when others are watching it. The few times in my life I lived alone, the television slept but during cartoons, which in my humble opinion are the only intelligent shows on television.

Or at least they aren't the dumbest.

I much dislike plot conveniences.

At issue is the pressure of time-to-press. Time is money. Cycle time is everything.

It's better to publish an imperfect story NOW, than a perfect story LATER.

Our haste forces us to accept sub-par works of any media.

And you think television is bad? Rapid-fire e-books are only making it worse!

- Eric

Jennifer said...

Hahahaha So True every single word of it! I am always ranting about these little inconsistances and ridiculousness. I hate it because I feel like screaming at the author DO YOU THINK I AM STUPID. geez entertain me but don't insult my intelligence.

mshatch said...

don't you people know that everyone in those alien shows wears translating devices?

Caitlin said...

Haha oh god, you are definitely right about that. I hadn't given this much thought, but after reading this several examples came to mind. Like someone else mentioned, Lost!

NiaRaie said...

I love this post, so so much Yes, I always asked myself how NO ONE in ALL THOSE YEARS ever figured out Miley was Hannah Montana. Also, i hate convenient rain for kissing scenes, & how every time a novel character is smart she always goes to an Ivy League school, like smart people don't go to other schools.

Meredith said...

THANK YOU. Oh my goodness, I can't watch Titanic anymore because I start screaming at Rose to just move over! There is plenty of room for Jack on that door! Alright, enough ranting. :)

Raquel Byrnes said...

LOL! You and the comments had me laughing. You know, you're right. About Miley, Scully, and Rose...duh!

Well, I hat to say it, but the Harry Potter stories kinda bug me.

Almost EVERY situation could be avoided if Harry just DID NOTHING.

Three headed dog attack, deadly giant chess game, strange strangling vines...they were all PROTECTION for something he had no business going after.

And the 3rd book, the prisoner of Azkaban...Harry isn't even in danger. The guy "AFTER" him is his loving uncle. 0_0

Entered in a dangerous and deadly contest? Your team already has a player? Do Nothing. The Tri-Wizard tournament was a GAME...like the Olympics. What would happen if you declined to play? Can't be worse than what actually happened.

And still...I love the books. Have read them so many times. I don't know. Maybe adventure for the sake of adventure is its own fun.

Hart Johnson said...

BUWAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Oh, this was beautiful. And the same exact things bug me and will drive me off of TV. This is the stuff I really count on my beta readers to catch because the inconsistencies DO crop up. The stupid MCs though, THAT is inexcusable. I hate that.

Anne R. Allen said...

Mooderino beat me to it with those English-speaking aliens.

And I couldn't agree more about Lost. I'm so angry that I kept trying to figure it out--when there was nothing to figure: just writers out of control. I guess Lost serves as a cautionary tale warning writers to ALWAYS pay attention to continuity. I bet that's one of the lowest-selling/renting TV series on Netflix. Why would anybody bother?

Thanks for letting us rant, Katie!

LTM said...

hmm... you're making a really good point here. And I used to stringently avoid anything even close to this when I wrote. And I got zinged for being boring. Then I tossed in just a few "obvious" things like this, and suddenly everyone was all into it...

What's the lesson here? Well... either we're just too dang smart (LOL!!! *snort*snort*) or maybe the audience likes to feel a little bit of control?

I think too much of this, though will sink your ship. Like in all those examples up there... :D <3

Janet Johnson said...

ROFL! SO true! "English" just means foreign, right?

And yes, I just finished a book where the MC was so DUMB I wanted to throw the book across the room (and not in a good way). :)

Inconsistencies drive me nuts, too!

Talli Roland said...

Oh, loads. I have to say, though, those things don't really bother me. I guess I'm easily entertained! :)

Kate said...

Forget the historical movies - how come the baddies in American films are always English? ;-)

Tamara Narayan said...

I'd give the historical films a 'pass' on their use of English accents. Few people want to read subtitles. As I write my historical novel, I struggle with spoken language constantly. I don't want to bog down the pace, but I want the 'feel' of the old times. It's tricky.

I was proud of my daughter the other night. We were reading A Bad Case Of Stripes and she kept yelling at all the doctors, specialists, and scientists to just imagine the stripe-afflicted girl 'normal'. Considering the storyline, her solution would have worked (but there goes the story!)

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