Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Playing coy with your plot.

One thing I've noticed over the years is that some books are a little coy with their plot. They spend most of their time going sideways, hinting and teasing, not really changing much.


The world is full of possibilities.  Go for it.  Got straight to the point.  Go the the logical extremes.  Satisfy the readers expectations.  It not about spinning out a story for as long as you can, it's about delivering entertainment as fast as you can.

There is always more where that came from.

There have been several so-called 'literary' S.F. and Fantasy books that I've just hated because of that.  I won't name them (OK. I'll name one of them, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell: how can you make the Napoleonic wars and magic boring?) that simply never deliver.  They promise great things, and then slip right by them.

Why? Because they think it is more literary to not actually go there?

Hell, unless you can write like Gabriel García Márquez, don't even try.  Magic realism is frankly a pain in the ass, because it is neither real nor magic.  Choose a side, dammit. If you're going to write an alternate history of the Jewish experience after WWII (The Yiddish Policeman's Union) then make it more than about how you have finally reconciled not playing chess with your father.  Really.  I don't care.

It seems to me that you should be able to deliver a complete story in, oh, I don't know -- under 100K words.  It seems to me that there is absolutely nothing wrong with plot.  It seems to me that actually "going there" is a favor to the reader.

Yes life is ambiguous and less than straightforward.

But you know what?  Life is ambiguous and less than straightforward!!!!  Let me read a book that gets to the point and gets to it fast and entertainingly. That's all I ask.

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