Monday, April 23, 2012

T - Tattle Tale


There is nothing more frustrating to me than when a main character has a piece of information that would solve everything if he/she just TOLD someone!!!

They know their best friend is cheating/on drugs/running away but loyalty keeps them from telling.

They know the bad guy is up to no good but can’t tell someone because ‘tattling’ could result in harm for someone they love.

They’re being blackmailed or they’re afraid people will turn against them if they tell.

Maybe it’s just the simple fact that no one likes a tattle tale.

I know it’s a commonly-used plot device but it drives me nuts – Mostly because just as much bad comes from withholding information than good.  It’s the moral of every story and yet…it doesn’t seem to stop us from using the scenario over and over again.

Even though it builds tension and ups the stakes, I find it refreshing when books bypass the ‘tattle-tale’ scenario altogether and take the road less traveled.

The girl TELLS the boyfriend she has feelings for someone else instead of denying them for chapters upon chapters.

The boy TELLS the authorities when scary notes start showing up on his windshield instead of investigating on his own.

When the bad guy threatens to hurt the MC’s girl if he doesn’t go along with his plan to start war between two races- he TELLS the important people and they bring the bad guy down together instead of spending lonely months turning away from those he loves in order to protect them.

Maybe it’s just me. 

Do you enjoy a good ol’ fashioned ‘I COULD TELL YOU BUT I'D HAVE TO KILL YOU’ scenario or do you prefer tension to be amplified in other ways?

16 comments:

SA Larsenッ said...

Did I miss it? lol

Natalie Aguirre said...

Great word but I think the post is missing. Don't worry. We all have those days.

Old Kitty said...

Who's been tattling and tittling away!?!? Yay! take care
x

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

Tension works.

Tamara Narayan said...

I'll put up with just about any plot device if it is done well.

Tracy Makara said...

I like twists and turns that are unexpected in a story. I sort of have to side with you though that there have been times I've practically yelled at a character to stop being so stubborn and just SAY something lol. Since there are only so many variations to work with though, I am happy as long as the writer can come up with something which doesn't feel too overused.

Hart Johnson said...

I totally agree with you UNLESS the author gives a really compelling reason to keep the secret... say the secret keeper thinks it is THEIR FAULT and is ashamed, or someone is being threatened.

Matthew MacNish said...

My daughter and I were talking about this this weekend. I forget what we were watching.

"Why don't they just tell the cops?" she said.

"Because then there would be no adventure," I told her.

Jay Noel said...

I think it's a great way to show tension.

I also love dramatic irony when the reader knows more than the characters.

You know, like how some people scream at the TV screen when the girl goes into the room where the ax murderer is hiding behind the door....

Theresa Milstein said...

That drives me crazy too! Especially when the stakes are so high, it just doesn't make any sense except as a plot device.

Connie Keller said...

I totally agree with you. The I-don't-tattle-thing drives me crazy.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I agree! It's frustrating. Just say something, stupid.

Botanist said...

I don't have a problem with it, providing there's a credible reason for them to keep quiet. If it's just an artificial device to rack up the tension, then the book hits the wall :)

Neurotic Workaholic said...

Like you, I like it better when characters are more straightforward about how they feel. That's what always drove me nuts about soap operas - characters who kept secrets for several episodes while the people they were keeping secrets from were completely oblivious.

Loopyloo said...

Oh I hate this, I'm always screaming 'Just tell someone!!' It really frustrates me! But then I realise that if they did tell someone, there'd be no story...Great post! :)

Karen Peterson said...

Amen! It drives me CRAZY when people won't just tell.

Although that's a major theme of my own novel...Hmm...

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