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Friday, December 9, 2011

To practical for my own good?


Sometimes I wonder if I'm too practical for my own good. Most of the time when I'm reading I can let stuff go and not even really think about it, and then I start obsessing on something and want to tell myself to get a grip. 
Case in point. I read a Christmas story which I actually really liked. I'm going to do a review of, and when you read this you'll think, OMG, horrible, but it wasn't. I even reread it later that day because I enjoyed it but .... 

My kids is great for letting me vent on this stuff. So the guy gets back to work and has an important meeting thus, making him very late (after midnight Christmas Eve - Christmas morning?) to get to the love interest's place, and because of the second blizzard he had to abandon his car in a snowbank and walk the last little bit. 

My first reaction: OMG, what if he had died trying to get home in a blizzard on Christmas Eve? They could sue his company for forcing him to work when there were unsafe conditions. That's just irresponsible. 

So later in the car I get caught up in the whirlwind. Okay, they made him stay late because there was an issue with an article in a trade magazine that they had to fix right away because the video game was coming out. Wait. Magazines don't print on Christmas day. What are you going to do at 10:00 at night on Christmas Eve. 

My kid then says: Well, they had to get the game out. Noooo. I could understand if it was a game release. Hell those people pull 4 days straight to get the game to market. He was a marketing guy dealing with a magazine who was not going to get his message until the 26th at the earliest. Did they REALLY need to stay in a blizzard and risk their employees lives? Seriously? (Notice how I'm spiraling into practicality here?)

So my remark to the kid: I expect reality in my books. Her reply: It's a fantasy. Me: No it's not. Her with a dose of sarcasm: It is now. Smart ass. 

As I said, I really enjoyed the story, the relationship between the two guys was smokin' hot with a BDSM edge and it was the geek and the smooth guy and at the time when I read it, save for the "OMG, he could have died" moment I never even noticed the other, and then I start obsessing. 

So do you get caught up in that or can you let it go? Most of the time I don't even notice, but sometimes I think I'm out of control with my practical side. "Normal people wouldn't do that." "Clothing stores aren't open at 10:00 on Christmas Eve." and so on and so on and so on. :-/

17 comments:

K. Z. Snow said...

My take on it is, if the story is fantasy, urban fantasy, steampunk, or sci fi, a reader expects departures from realism. But if it's a contemporary, it has to follow real-world rules. Circumstances have to make sense, not just serve the plot.

It drives me buggy when stories collapse beneath the weight of convenient contrivances. Make a situation at least seem logical, and I'll buy it.

Janna said...

LOLOL, I can just *see* you do that, Tam. :D
I'm much less practical than you when it comes to this kind of things I think. Maybe it's because I often think that it must be something American, for example to work on Christmas eve, lol.
And now I'm really curious which story this is, because I want to read it. :)

Tam said...

I agree KZ. In this case it was a minor glitch (which COULD have had a basis in reality, it wasn't completely whack) which only thinking back cause me to go on a tanget, but it does have to make sense. If I'm going "no way", I'm not focusing on the main points of the story.

Tam said...

It's called Chance of Snow by Bryn Paulin from MLR. I really enjoyed it, lots of spicy tension.

That's a good point Janna. I probably do the same thing "Oh, in Europe they do X I guess". Here on Christmas Eve all stores close at 6:00. I'm not sure you could even buy a gift at 10:00. Maybe at a gas station. "Here honey, a pack of batteries, a 6-pack of coke and a candy bar. Merry Christmas." But things like that seem to be lovely devices taken from movies to fit the plot rather than what a character would really have to face.

I just read something when the guy went "Oh no, I'll have to run out on the morning and get him a real gift." And my instinct was "It's Christmas, nothing is open" but before I could even think it, he said "Oh crap, it's Christmas, nothing will be open." Thank you, thank you author, for inserting a dose of reality. LOL It's the little things.

Tam said...

I should probably mention this is something I am kind of anal about myself. In theory my Christmas story would be set on the 24th because it's based vaguely on my real world, the things I describe usually happen on the 24th, but I made a point of saying the 23rd because the 24th is a Saturday and it wouldn't work. I know that in a year no one will know the difference, but I knew if I was reading it I'd be going "Why are they working in an office on the 24th which is a Saturday?" It's my "thing".

Chris said...

As someone who does this, too, you have my sympathy. The Rowan McAlister story from the 2011 DSP Advent Calendar was filled with problematic bits like this, like a Hummer H2 running over the spare tire at the beginning of the book... then they put the spare on later in the book and drove on it, no problem. Ummm... that spare is maimed, dammit...

Tam said...

Yeah Chis, thankfully this particular story which triggered the post did not have any major issues like that. There was no roads blocked with snow drifts only to have him drive away the next scene. Specific mention of snow plows was made. LOL Occassionally while reading I've even gone back thinking ... maybe I missed something that would make the second thing make sene but ... not usually.

Chris said...

I go back hopefully like that, too! :)

K. Z. Snow said...

I've done that as well! I'm a stickler for internal logic.

Funny, though, how difficult it is to maintain internal logic when you're writing a story. And that's where editors come into play. It's up to them to point out inconsistencies, contradictions, and implausible situations. An author can get so wrapped up in individual scenes, or be so focused on the whole story arc, that s/he doesn't notice a little hole here or a frayed edge there.

Tam said...

I imagine it's even harder KZ, for people who writes scenes out of order and then hook them together. I can't do that. I write from start to finish so I think it's a bit easier to build on rather to write somethin at the 70% mark assuming he will have done X earlier, only later forgetting that he was supposed to do it when you write that earlier scene. But that works for some people, I'd be lost. :-) An editor or even an honest friend can help point out that you had a flat tired last page, you can't drive away from the scene of the crime on this page, unless you plan on driving on the rim which is a whole other plot point. :-)

Jenre said...

Sorry, I'm late to the party. I spent the weekend recovering from a stomach bug and then trying to catch up on stuff.

Oh yes, this happens to me all the time. I get so easily distracted by little minor niggly points, especially when they don't fit my own reality. Sometimes I can shrug them off as my lack of knowledge about the USA - after all how should I know whether or not the shops stay open until after 10pm on Christmas Eve in the USA? - but just occasionally I'll have a 'huh' moment which can lead to me spending the book/story feeling irritated.

Lack of continuity bothers me too. If I can't picture what's on the page in my head because of some overlooked glitch, then I get miffed.

Tam said...

Sometimes I can even let it pass Jen by going "Well, maybe in a big city like New York stores are open" but some basic stuff, no. It does get frustrating, perhaps because either an author couldn't bothered finding a way to achieve their goals logically, or they expect us to just believe it with no questions asked. I'm not stupid. I do know the basics of physics and reality. :-)

Tracy said...

I probably would have thought: OMG he could have died! But then not thought about it further. Well maybe I would have but not until I was done with the book and thinking about it later. lol

Tam said...

Well, I confess most of my musings came much later in the game, but at the time it struck me. :-)

bdsm Slave said...

super nice.

Josephine Myles said...

I'm really hot on stuff like this when I'm critting for others - when writing my own stories? Not so much. It's that much harder to get a grasp on your own work in that way.

Good editors and crit partners are absolutely essential for pulling up writers on these kinds of things!

Tam said...

I think authors are as a rule just too close to their own work. Caught up in their heads about what they know characters are thinking and what's happening next and they kind of miss that. I agree, you don't need a professional editor to note that mail is being delivered on Sunday which doesn't happen here ... EVER! :-)