Monday, May 20, 2013

Why does the sky always have to all?

The Consortium Patriot Acts Part III reaches deeply into the hidden
and sinister world of the international banking system
and the global power brokers who profit from it.

And a hearty welcome home to author
Steven Clark Bradley after

a two-year sabbatical teaching in China.

Question from the e-mail.  Why does the sky always have to fall? Seriously, just when you think things can't possibly get any worse--they DO! I just threw the book I was reading across the room because since they left Rome to search for the holy grail, they have been attacked by five different kinds of bandits, suffered two plagues, survived half a dozen sand storms, lost their rations, and they haven't even gotten as far as Damascus. I'm just too tired to go any further. I know most stories are about a quest. But don't they ever see any butterflies along they way to finding their objective? Can't something pleasant happen now and then????

Answer:  My good friend, Carla Neggers, says of plotting, that you create a character, then you put them in a big hole and throw dirt in on them. Every time they try to climb out (temporary triumph), you throw more dirt (obstacles), until the arrival of what Carla calls the "big gloom" when it appears that there is no way out of the hole at all. It's a hard fact, but true, that what's bad for the protagonist is good for the story.

Now you didn't say what the book is but the usual format for a plot is one quest with three main obstacles, finally the bleak moment (when it would appear the grail is lost forever) and then the resolution (either they find it or they don't) but the issue must be resolved.  

The problem with the book you were reading is that the author set up  more obstacles than you had patience for.  Usually, in our culture three is the magic number. In Native American culture four is the magic number. Cinderella had two stepsisters, but Corn Maiden had three....
I had a student once who wrote a story where the heroine was tied to the railroad tracks -- a suspenseful, if trite, plot turn. The hero was riding to the rescue. The train was coming. The heroine was screaming. And then the train ran out of coal . Then the hero came to the rescue. When I asked my student why she had the train run out of coal, she said, "Well, I didn't want it to run over her, in case he didn't get there in time." But it is the possibility that he won't get there that keeps the reader on the edge-of-the-chair, to coin a cliché. 

In your case, my guess would be that the author didn't make the grail important enough for you to believe they would keep on searching after all those bad things had happened....


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