Showing posts with label logic. Show all posts
Showing posts with label logic. Show all posts

Jul 2, 2018

Picky, Picky, Picky!

As a kid I was known as a picky eater. Basically, if my mother didn't make it, I was suspicious, and my aunts learned to keep a jar of peanut butter around. That I'd always eat.
Today, I'm less picky about food, but as a consumer of entertainment, I'm still picky. I know that sometimes that comes off as sour grapes or the I-could-do-it-better attitude. That might be true.

I need some sort of logic in my comedy. Anything billed as "zany" or "madcap" is liable to go unread/watched. There are ways to do zany well--Mel Brooks comes to mind--but most of the time I get tired of silliness portrayed as comedic genius. I don't like those people. They need to grow up.

I need plot authenticity in my dramas too. A few nights ago we watched a movie (It was too hot to do anything else!) and though I kept my comments to myself, here are a few logical flaws I noticed.
*The millionaire bad guy had dozens of minions willing to obey his every command. So...he calls in a retired crook who doesn't want the job.
*In order to make the retired crook (let's call him RC) cooperate, MBG arranges his financial ruin if he doesn't take the job. Again, thousands of people in the world who'd gladly help him out, but...
*RC then goes out and gets a bunch of other retired crooks to help him, though it turned out the job only required two guys. None of them wanted the job either, but there's money.
*During the job one of the gang, a complete nut case who shouldn't have been trusted to cross the street by himself, goes berserk and kills the guy they were supposed to "warn" to leave a certain woman alone. The other guy, who should have known better, kills the woman, sorta by mistake.
Remember, these are the good guys in this film. We're supposed to feel sorry for them.

*This leads BRG to put out contracts on all of them. RC tells RBG he should only kill him, not the others, but of course they die horribly, one by one.
*In the meantime there's a girl RC really, really likes, so naturally he tells the RBG, "Please don't hurt her." Yeah, that's gonna work.
*There's also a hooker who doesn't seem to have a purpose except that RC goes to bat for her when a john beats her up and beats the crap out of trespassing onto a corporate property and in front of a dozen expensively-clad witnesses. I guess that shows us how honorable he is...?
At that point I went to another room and read a book.
Now I know this was a testosterone flick, concocted to make a certain type of man happy with lots of  blood and the F word sprinkled like salt on French fries. But is it too much to ask that there be a cogent reason for the way anybody in the film acted at any point in time?

So yes, I'm picky. When I watch, when I read, I need to feel that the characters are acting from some point of logic, no matter how screwed up it might be. Others can dismiss bad writing as "just for entertainment." I want better entertainment than that.

Aug 15, 2016

Why Did the Amateur Sleuth Cross the Road?

Unless an author writes only police procedurals and P.I. novels, the question of why the protagonist gets involved in the mystery is present. I've never in my life wanted to investigate a murder, and I'm guessing most readers would say the same. We trust the police to do an adequate job, and while we might grumble that they didn't turn every stone in a specific case, we seldom jump in to help.

If you're going to write a mystery with an amateur sleuth, he or she has to have a reason to get involved that departs from what is good behavior and good sense in real life.

Loser wants to help the father of a little girl who reminds her of her daughter.

Caroline is suspected of killing her former best friend.
Many authors choose to have their protag or someone close to him as the suspect. This is certainly a driving force, as long as the rules of logic are applied. If you're accused of murder, are the people involved in the case likely to sit down with you and talk about it? And why would they be honest? It isn't like you can arrest them for perjury. If you testified in court that someone confessed to you, his lawyer would have you for lunch. "So you are a suspect in this case, but you want us to believe that Mr. X confessed to you that he did it. How convenient for you!"

Four vagrants witness a murder but can't report it to the police.

Another scenario is that the protagonist has special knowledge of the crime that he can't/won't share with the police, or he shares his info and they ignore it. If that were so, I suspect most of us would rationalize our way out of investigating on our own. "Well, yes, I did see Mr. X leaving the scene of the crime, but the police asked him about it, and he claims he was in Hoboken." End of story. Most of us don't have the time, the temperament, or the drive to chase down criminals. We'd grumble, "Nobody ever listens to me," and forget about it.

Princess Elizabeth wants to stop a killer.
Finally, there's the nosy protagonist who simply can't stay out of other people's business. I find these the hardest to relate to, and I've given up on books when the amateur sleuth's pushy behavior didn't make sense. The book I'm reading right now comes close, with a woman who travels all over England questioning people about a death she has no connection to. Her family keeps telling her not to do it, and she's been attacked several times now, but she's determined (dad-gum-it) and just won't stop. Luckily the author presents her as determined and stubborn, so her refusal to give up is at least tenable.

In defense of authors, we need a story, the story needs a protagonist, and the protagonist needs to keep going when the police either stop investigating or never really begin. My concern is with how well the author sets up the story. In the beginning, can I believe this person would take up the challenge of a murder investigation, and as we go onward, do I still like him or her because of it?

How About a FREE Print Book?

Readers love book deals, right? Here’s the situation: I have books I didn’t sell, largely due to COVID. I’m not interested in doing li...