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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

About Plausibility

Made lots of progress on "Resistance" yesterday, and then hit a wall. Problem: Dee has an idea for blowing the lid off several conspiracies at once, but it will put her in danger. What could motivate her to do it? How can she convince others to help her and risk danger themselves? It's like what often happens in a horror movie when the female lead being menaced by an inhuman monster decides to go the one direction that will lead to a dead end and being trapped. Another example comes to mind from Arline Chase's blog about what would motivate a character to run into a burning building. Motivation is key, and it must make sense to the reader who must be able to say, "I would do the same thing in his/her shoes." It must be a plausible reason.

Under the circumstances. I know I have often found myself so caught up in a tale--be it book or movie--that I don't recognize such problems of reasoning until much later. The horror movie thing is always obvious, especially in offerings where the connection to the character is already tenuous. (Horror for horror's sake usually leaves us with mere sketches of characters because the filmmakers would rather spend time and money finding new ways to gross people out instead of developing dialog and characters.) The same thing applies to other mistakes. I may have mentioned something in one of my all-time favorite movies, "Charade": the body of a man in his pajamas is thrown off a train, then the police tell his widow that he brought no luggage aboard the train, only a few toiletry items, passport, datebook, etc. Did he board the train wearing his pajamas? If the pajamas (and robe) were in his little airline bag, what happened to the clothes he wore when he got on the train? Yet for the first several viewings (I really, really like this movie), I didn't notice the problem at all. I was too caught up in what poor Regina was going through and who all those people were and what were they after to worry about it.

So in "Resistance," when Dee presents her perilous ploy to get at the truth, she must have a good reason to put herself on the line and endanger others as well. I've tried to lay some groundwork for her decision along the way, reflecting on the wrongs done to her by those she seeks to bring down, but my main concern now is if that adds up to the right level of motivation.

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