It is so annoying to me when an author works to set up a convoluted setting or plot line at the beginning of his or her story, and then instead of following the thread logically through to the end, makes up something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT and solves the problem with that instead.
Anton Chekhov said: “If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.”
His comment was more about including extraneous information. From my perspective, it should also apply the other way around…if you include the gun. USE THE GUN. Don’t have the murder victim hanged in the end for no good reason.
There’s a book that’s a PERFECT example of this that I use to illustrate such lazy writing when I’m at conferences. I won’t name names here…but suffice it to say, it was a romance about a shapeshifter in love with a rich mogul. The shapshifter is invited to her new boyfriend’s private island, where his maid has picked out a swimsuit for our heroine, sight unseen. The suit is a size six and fits like a glove.
I threw the book across the room and never picked it up again. (Except to donate it to Goodwill.)
It stretches believability enough that a woman could pick out a bathing suit for another woman…I have enough trouble picking out my OWN swimsuits, thank you very much. But the author (and her editor) missed a FABULOUS opportunity: If your main character is a shapeshifter, it would be a much more fun (and sympathetic) scene if the bathing suit was horrible…and the woman shifted herself so that it fit perfectly.
If that had happened, I would have loved this author forever! Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.
In my course of doing the Fairy Tale Rant series on YouTube, I’ve begin to realize that some of these “lazy storytelling” problems have been with us since the time of fairy tales.
Below is one such example of lazy writing…or at least, I think so. I have a friend who disagrees. What do you think? How would YOU have ended this one?
(PS: The reason I titled this post “lazy mermaid” is because I MEANT to do a mermaid movie review, but I didn’t write it up last night like I was supposed to. So expect that to drop in some other time this month…xox Alethea)