Hostage Situation


In many of the books that I’ve read lately, I seem to get to a place in the story where the plot, which was original and engaging up to this point, seems to be taken hostage by Cliche Renegades. All of a sudden the author resorts to unexplained resurrections, healing or super power elixirs, deus ex machina, or any number of contrived plot devices that cause my interest level to plummet.

Sometimes, I simply sigh and keep reading. In the back of my mind, I’m secretly hoping that the author will vanquish the renegades and the captivating, unpredictably fascinating and cleverly worded plot will return. Sadly, this rarely happens. The renegades threatening the plot (in cahoots with the author I suspect) usually subject me, as the unsuspecting reader, to a few more chapters of cliche-induced torture before finally ending my misery with some strange, ambiguous “to be continued” type of non-resolution… as part of a “planned trilogy”.

TANGENT: Is every book written these days part of a planned trilogy?

My real question is this… don’t most authors plot their stories with meticulous detail from beginning to end? I mean, like ALL THE WAY to the end? As an author, my approach to storytelling is to first create a unique or slightly altered world or universe, and then describe specific events occurring within it.

I’m sure there are other approaches that are effective. I’m just a fan of a good story that takes me on a colorful journal down an unpredictable path to places I’ve never been before. Maybe they start out that way and simply lose interest two-thirds of the way into the story and decide to go with a cookie cutter ending just to say that it’s finished.

I don’t know.

But I feel that while the author of a book I just finished (which of course, is part of a planned trilogy… that will remain nameless), has done a terrific job of providing great content, the “trigger” moment was a hug letdown. Especially when they teased me with an exceptional buildup of emotion over some impending event that was sure to signal the final lead-up to the climax and satisfy the part of me that has invested my time and mind to the story.  Unfortunately, the “trigger” moment wound up being an oft-used fall-back involving an abruptly administered chemical injection that has turned a portion of the population into mind-controlled killing machines. This segment of the population happens to include characters I’ve grown to care about.

When I read it, I sighed and was like, “Really?? A syringe filled with a mind-controlling substance?? That’s the cheap snack you’re feeding me after promising me a 4-course gourmet meal??”

Ugh… pay me no mind. I think I’m slowly becoming a book snob. 😛

Riis Book Snob

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Categories: commentary, opinion, personal, writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “Hostage Situation

  1. I am also a bit tired of the trilogy habit that seems to pervade every author’s newest aspiration. I would like to enjoy something that is complete in one book before I try investing money or time into a trilogy. Unless the author is offering something as significant as Harry Potter (where we’re following a life line of defining events). That’s about the only time I’m good for an extended story.

  2. I’m with you on the trilogy/series thing. I miss when a good book was just a good book, singular. Seems like everything is part of a series anymore. And unfortunately it is rare for the story, if a good one, to remain good when it is stretched out over so many books. They nearly always get ruined by the last books.

  3. I’ve read that book. And I too was disappointed, but for other reasons. I was unhappy with the direction the main character went after that trigger moment pushed everything into motion. But now that you mention it, that plot bit is frustrating too.

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