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Inventing Problems and Character Stupidity
Old 08-30-2017, 11:33 AM
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jackfaire jackfaire is offline
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Default Inventing Problems and Character Stupidity

In my opinion when you're writing a story no matter the medium Book, TV, Movie etc. There are things that should never be done that are done with an alarming frequency.

For example I am reading a story where a woman kicking her boyfriend out of his own apartment that he'd had her living in, but hadn't added her to the lease, for cheating on her and trying to force her to get an abortion. He went willingly. Fast forward to a year and some odd months later. She's in love with the man across the hall that she's been dating for six months.

She also has two bosses that are also great friends Ex who still neither wants, likes, or cares about his son decides to move back in and make her life for a as yet undisclosed reason (I haven't read that far).

Now here is where it gets into Inventing Problems

In the real world if this situation occurs to you and it's negatively affecting your son and you have places to go then you move out. She can move in with the boyfriend or if she doesn't feel ready for that go stay with her friends who she knows would put her up. The ex was not physically or psychological abusive he just became an asshole when she got pregnant and wanted her to "take care of it" then she found out he was cheating.

There is nothing in her psyche that indicates she would feel staying would be her only option and she is meant to be an intelligent woman.

So why do writers insist on creating these situations and then pretending they're a Gordian Knot that needs to be untied when just cutting ties is the more elegant solution.

The other part of this is the use of Convenient Stupidity AKA suddenly can't solve the same or similar problem today that was a snap yesterday.

An example of this comes from an episode of NCIS.

Investigators are told "Yes before the explosion two guys came into fix the internet they were not the normal guys" In any other episode that would have been a clue. A point of inquiry the place to start.

But the writers had decided that was the solution to the whole mystery was that bit of information. Rather than using an unreliable eyewitness who didn't notice they weren't the normal guys they had her hand them the crucial clue right off the bat.

They then proceeded to investigate those men found they blew up in the explosion and called it a day. Nope just kidding they ignored that basic information and instead investigated leads that made little to no sense finally finding from an entirely more complicated line of investigation that 'hey that big ass clue we were handed earlier but are literally never going to mention again yeah that was relevant'

Seriously it's never brought up again. The only time that works in a story is that the point is for the investigator to over look basic information.

A few times that works for a story are

1) investigator is distracted realizes this case is personal and lets his personal prejudice cloud his judgement

2) It's really a training exercise and the lead investigator is training a probie

3) The person is incompetent at their job and doesn't write down anything unless they think it's relevant leaving out important clues.

Other than it's stretching my ability to believe beyond the snapping point.

It's like killing a man with a flame thrower and then claiming he was killed with heat vision when the forensics doesn't support that.

It's asinine.
Jack Faire
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Old 09-02-2017, 05:35 PM
s_stabeler s_stabeler is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 2,212

I don't actually disagree, but both can be summarised rather more simply.
1) don't create conflict for the sake of it. (that is, don't simply have two characters arguing just to create some drama, while having everyone conveniently forget at the end f the episode/book/whatever)
2) unless a character is specifically said to be incompetent- in which case they should really face consequences of said incompetence- then please do some research to find out how someone competent at said character's job would handle it- or even better, for jobs that actually exist, have someone who actually does said job involved in planning the script (and specifically, if they say "that wouldn't happen like that" please listen to them.)
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