Plot “Issues”


I’ve reached the point where I’m questioning some of the major events that make up my plot. Again.

I don’t know if this is part of the creative process or what, but I’m getting to the point where I’m like haaaaaaaaaating life. So here’s my question to put to “all” of you.

***What are the three biggest “issues” you find yourself having when you watch movies or read books of the mystery/suspense genre? (What “unforgivable sins” do writers commit that make you go “oh, please” or “aw, geez”?)

Here’s an example of some things that I can’t stand and am already trying to avoid. (But I’d really appreciate it if you can think of any others!)

1) When the ending of a story is so out of left field that there’s NO WAY you could’ve possibly figured it out on your own. (Like when Mr. Green turned out to be working for the government in CLUE. Or when the bad guy of the book turns out to be some dude you’ve never heard of, and it’s like “Whaaaa?”)

2) When the plot is SO formulaic, that you know who dunnit and what he/she done like a third of the way through the book. (“Aha! The creepy, antisocial butler did it!”)

3) When the main character is all “deep” but the rest of the characters are totally one-dimensional. (i.e. the gruff old police chief, the slutty best friend and the sexy, rugged love interest who sweeps in at the last second to save the heroine, etc…) Not that there’s anything wrong with the traditional romantic comedy format, I’m just shooting a little higher in this case.

4) When the bad guy is totally, obviously nefarious to anyone who meets him. Like, when there’s a mustache that he likes to twirl while he cackles maniacally. Unless that guy turns out not to be the bad guy. Then, he’s hilarious.

Okay, now what else am I missing?

2 thoughts on “Plot “Issues”

  1. These aren’t so much unforgiving so much as annoying.

    1) When the characters do what the author wants and not what necessarily is in line with their character, or randomly changing directions with very little historic backing. Books 6 and 7 of the Harry Potter series are particularly prone to this problem.

    2) Annoying, arbitrary, “ah ha” moments. See minute 45 (including commercials) of every single House episode. It’s annoying, but despite that I keep watching the show. Any other form of deus ex machina is annoying.

  2. You’ve named my big ones..others are:

    1) When our heroine suddenly realizes- for no particular reason- that she CAN overcome something and suddenly she’s this better person who can do anything and she gets this big confidence surge even though nothing has changed to make them feel that way besides the author wanting to wrap up a book .

    2) When the protagonist puts together the clues too easily and we’re thinking “how did he get that, from that?” Angels and Demons was guilty of that. Somehow Tom Hanks got the location, artist, and sculpture in twenty seconds, all from a 5 word clue no reader could make sense of. Or when the detective can too easily read what the killer is going to do next.

    3) When the hero/heroine rushes into dangerous situations despite being on the force for years, has been trained by the CIA or has worked up a reputation for being the best. Yet the killer still lures him/her into a dark abandoned building off an empty highway and they go inside alone without thinking to call for backup. ? Or running into obvious traps then being surprised when a gang of bad guys is waiting at the other end instead of “Carla” who sounded so strange on the phone and who never in a million years would have told him to meet her in that empty office building at night with no lights on and the regular cleaning crew mysteriously missing.

    4) When the hero voluntarily uses himself as bait not because there’s no other way but because he is stupid and “this is just what I have to do” “I have to do this alone”.

    5) When an author manipulates a character at the end to fit what he has in mind. Like the bad guy is wheelchair bound Grandfather Charles who throughout the book is always so pleasant and kind but turns out to be a gambling, drug addict who is being blackmailed by a drug lord and who is suddenly holding a knife at our protagonist. There is no evidence of any problems throughout the whole book but the author needed motive but was too lazy to leave clues throughout the book.

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