Wednesday, February 4, 2015

#IWSG Does it bug you when ...



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Movies get away with impossible things, but authors cannot?

Saturday, I had a conversation with a good friend of mine over dinner and we talked about that very thing. She said that maybe it is because viewers are caught up in the moment and expect to be entertained.

Here are my thoughts:
Uh, no, a puddle of petroleum gas will not burst into fire and explode if you shoot it with a gun. Uh, no, that villain would not get back up after having been shot in the gut. Uh, no, a man cannot possibly squeeze through a drainpipe no matter how alien the antagonist is.

Do you see where we're going here? As authors, we get lynched for writing in the word "Okay" during the 1800s (perish the thought!)! Or if we aren't scientifically correct in making sense of technicalities in a sci-fi book. Or a famous rock star doesn't get recognized while strolling down the street. (
those happen all the time in movies, why not books?)

A friend of mine complained from a review how her book didn't sound realistic. Uh, well, how does a flying vampire sound realistic? LOL

There are many times when something in real life has happened and we insert it into a book. Sometimes, readers will say that can't happen--but it has, and it did! Have you ever reenacted a scene from your book just to see how it would work out? Maybe something didn't happen during that era or couldn't possibly have happened.

That's when I build the plot (or plant an idea) to where it doesn't come as a shock to the readers. Or at least try to. If all else fails, why not put an author's note and pull the last "creative license" declaration card?

What do you think? Do you feel the same way? What are your writerly pet peeves?

45 comments:

  1. I generally get irritated over movie plots that have completely unrealistic plot elements too. But I also think this could be a case where: readers read with the expectation that a book will make them think and people often watch movies with the hopes it will give them a break from thinking. Maybe?

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    1. That could be it, though I know many readers love to read for escapism's sake. What do you think?

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  2. Hi Elizabeth! We see things in the movies all the time that you know don't happen in real life. You go with it because it's entertaining. I agree that in books, you at least have to plant a seed about how it could happen. Mostly it depends on the type of book. My hubs reads action and war stories. He's a vet and knows his weapons. He's always calling BS on stuff he reads.

    Gwen Gardner, IWSG Co-host

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    1. Hi, Gwen! :) Yes, I can see how it wouldn't sit right with someone who knows his stuff very well. Sometimes it's very hard to find an expert who is willing to beta read a book for accuracy; even find an expert at all!

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  3. The more TV and movies I watch, the more critical I have become of them as well. But you have a great point in that we're so easy to pick apart things. I can suspend belief so long as the author has set up a world in which the "unbelievable" makes sense. Neil Gaiman is a master at this. He has this way of inserting you into a story where the world building sustains any implausibilities.

    What bothers me is inconsistencies in a character within the world the author or show/movie has already set up. Castle for example; it's a silly premise with a crime writer tagging along with the NYPD and solving cases. But I love Nathan Fillion and he makes it work. What didn't work for me was [spoilers] the wedding episode where tough detective Beckett suddenly waxes poetic about dream weddings and the perfect gown and how she has a forgotten quickie marriage from Vegas. None of this made sense for the character the show built up over 5 years; it simply proved effective for a wedding episode in which Beckett was reduced to a bride stereotype. I almost quit the show, but then there's Nathan Fillion so... I now passively watch and am mostly annoyed :) haha

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    1. Oh, yes, that makes absolute sense! Like you said, "I can suspend belief so long as the author has set up world in which the "unbelievable" makes sense." Perfectly written! It *would* have to make sense.

      I read a book (forgot the author and title!) long ago that took place in the medieval times. The heroine fell in love with a lord who made his nobles quake and dote upon him but the author failed miserably in making him believable. His personality was shallow, as in, not well-rounded or dynamic at all.

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    2. Oops! I hit "publish" before I could finish my thought. Needless to say, I didn't find the book enjoyable because it all felt staged and forced.

      There is a difference between poor writing (as above example) and creating believability.

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  4. It really is a double standard, isn't it? But I think people read books for all those details and immersion while movies we want quick entertainment, darn the reality.

    I am reading a book right now that did in fact have a disclaimer of sorts at the beginning. she wrote that certain events did not happen at the time in her book, but she took liberties. - That was awesome, she headed off people concerns from the get go.

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    1. I *love* that: a disclaimer at the beginning...pulling the creative license card on the reader! That basically pardons the author from any inaccurate fact in the pages.

      I've written a romance novel about Eros and I had a reader say it was impossible for any of this to happen because Eros had fallen in love with Psyche. O.O Well, I see many, many movies, shows and books (read) that take Cupid out of context because he's just that cool!

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  5. Maybe it's all the action movies today, but I'm getting pretty used to seeing actors surviving things they couldn't possibly survive. It's gotten to the point that having a character complain about his knee after having fallen a couple of stories makes me think they're wimps.

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  6. So, vampires are realistic, but not flying ones?
    I notice that stuff in movies as well. Not just in books. I don't know why there is a double standard.

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    1. and it really irks the author in me. But I like what Southpaw said and just include a disclaimer at the start of the book. Viola! ;)

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  7. Even when writing paranormal or the unbelievable, a book needs to have a semblance of reality. It's actually laughable but it does. I've seen a bajillion movies that were unbelievable, why not a book!! Those are usually the best, for me. We all share differing opinions.

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    1. Cathrina, I agree--I came across Stephsco comment above and I like how she worded it:
      "I can suspend belief so long as the author has set up a world in which the "unbelievable" makes sense."

      In the case of Harry Potter--all disbelievability turned into believablity just because of one little factor: magic! Right? If there was no magic, how can someone swim under water just by eating seaweed?

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  8. I don't write contemporary but TV shows that have the heroic cops using casual violence against suspects to elicit information really turns me off. They just seem like bullies. Or in romantic dramas when a simple conversation could clear up a misunderstanding comes across as really silly.

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    1. I don't like that, either. The media is picking on the cops and now the US believes they are all bullies. *sigh*

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  9. Writerly pet peeves...right now, it's heroines making stupid decisions. Too stupid to live, for sure. Of course, they do this to further the plot along, but really?!

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    1. Speaking of heroines! I don't like how people make then super invincible. I *can't* stand girl power and Disney has taken it too far.

      Gone with the Wind really gets to me--too much dramatic girl power there.

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  10. I wonder if people are just more willing to believe what they see on the screen because it's combined with music, and they can see it? Did that make sense? For my last book I was told a girl would never react a certain way by a beta reader. The sad thing is, I knew of a personal case where it happened in real life. People will believe what they want and complain about what they want.

    As writers we can only stay true to our vision.

    My pet peeves are: the words beginning and starting to and when authors don't trust their readers to make connections on their own.

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    1. Oh, I've come across real-life situations and readers say that isn't possible. :P

      I don't like passive writing, either!

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  11. I get irritated with wrong info in books AND movies. Just the other day, I was reading a YA book wherein the protag was supposedly obsessed with Anne Frank. At one point, the protag (the book was in 1st person POV) comments on how she finished the book and found that Anne died in Auschwitz. Uh, no. I haven't read Anne Frank in 20 years, yet I still knew she died in Bergen-Belsen. I find it pathetic when authors or script writers don't do their research (especially when a 15-second google search will do the trick.)

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    1. I can see how a detail so little, yet so big, can throw you off and make you put the book down. I, for one, spend hours and hours researching to make sure I have the correct information. Sometimes I come up empty. *sigh*

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  12. This is so true! Although I am guilty of probably overlooking inaccuracies in TV/movies, because I tend to use them to relax and don't analyze them as much. Not to mention that I'm not as familiar with the structure as I am with novels.

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    1. It is interesting how, though authors and movies both entertain, we are yet so different when it comes to intellectual intelligence! Ah, the pressures of being a writer.

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  13. oh yeah, I do hate what movies are allowed to get away with. Author's have so much more creativity as we have to "write" in the visuals instead of just showing a flash on-screen. No fair.

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    1. On top of that, our writing needs to be as fast-paced for the typical attention span of today's world! People don't want to wait anymore and it is getting faster and faster! Yikes!!!

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  14. That is pretty annoying, I'd never thought about it before.

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    1. Yeah, I feel picked on as an author. Something that I'm working on is a villain is hurling a sword at the heroine, but technically, it is near impossible for it to travel through air like a javelin because it is not aerodynamically correct. Uh, would I really need to have it that way in order to make the scene work? The movies do it! ;P

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  15. Putting too much weight on people's opinions will never end well for the writer. There will be people who get lost in the book and enjoy every part of it. Others won't like it or will deconstruct it to the point of absurd. I enjoyed Pacific Rim, but could not handle Transformers: Age of Extinction. My problems with the second may be valid, but I know I could raise half of the same points for the other. Why I don't? I really don't know. Transformers is not my thing, I guess. The same way a person will pick apart your book but let go similar movies. Don't give too much thought to it. Do what you love and let it go.

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    1. Hey, great advice! *song "Let it go" now ringing in my head* ;)

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  16. That's why I prefer dark fantasy over something scary like memoir :) Bu like you say, some people even believe there are truths in fantasy figures, like vampires, so there's no escaping it. Grr!

    http://shahwharton.com

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    1. Hi, Shah! Great to see you here. Yay! Tell me about it... We just do our best, right? :)

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  17. Oh, yeah. I hate it when the impossible (or improbable) happens in a movie. And my Hubs hates it when I ruin the mood by mentioning it. LOL

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    1. LOL. I do that too and how fast my kids catch on and do the same. *ducking*

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  18. I do find it irritating when impossible things happen in movies. It can be hard to get lost in the fantasy of a story when things that are against the laws of gravity and logic happen. Readers are far more harm on authors than they are on screenwriters.

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    1. Annoyingly true, but how interesting is that?

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  19. A lot of times I guess it's the way it's written. And the fact that something is written means that more details have to be filled in and the reader has more time to think about what's being presented to them. A movie image goes by so fast that we usually don't have time to stop and think especially when the action is high.

    Ultimately it probably matters most whether we want to believe no matter what the medium of presentation is. If we go into something unwilling to suspend disbelief then the story doesn't have much of a chance anyway.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

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  20. Denzel Washington rolling the plane in "flight" while cool has got to rank high as unbelievable in my book.

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  21. Hi Elizabeth!!!
    Actually one of the liberties that screenwriters take that kills me is how characters take a beating, but get right back up and accomplish extraordinary things while suffering from what should be severe internal injuries or broken bones. We really aren't that strong.... But it makes for good cinema. One punch to the head, and I'm pretty sure I'd want to take to my bed or couch for the rest of the day. LOL. I'll never be an action movie star.

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    1. Tell me about it! I even when the character gets punched in the diaphragm? lol

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  22. I'm with you sister! Totally different experiences (reading and watching) but yes, films do get away with a lot of impossibilities that we could never get away with as writers.

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    1. It's a mindset, isn't? People who read are (more) intellectual than people who watch movies! Or is that a total false observation? Maybe true on some level? *ducking*

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