Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Two Plots Authors Should Avoid

Some Plots Are Just Better Left Unwritten!

If a plot is very hard to make credible and very likely to annoy a reader, why take the risk of writing it? Why write a plot that is very likely to turn a 5-star effort into a 3-star result? I don’t know why but authors do it.

Plot #1

This is a plot built on a misunderstanding that could be easily cleared-up in five minutes. The author has to exert a great deal of ingenuity to keep the question from coming up (and being resolved) for the length of a novel while the reader is kept in a state of exasperation ever ready to shout out: “just tell him” or “just talk it out”. Even when well written these stories do not provide a very good ‘reading experience’.

Plot #2

This a a plot where there are more than two crucial coincidences. A coincidence, even the most improbable, is fully acceptable as the initiating incident of the story. A second coincidence that is closely related to the first one can be acceptable with sufficient foreshadowing. However, when there are three or four and even more subsequent coincidences, even in a heartwarming story, the joy of the book is substantially diminished.

A particularly bad coincidence is the one that happens at the end of the book for the sole purpose of making the ending more emotional. This happens after the story climax. This type of gratuitous coincidence actually devalues the hard work the author has done up to that point. Readers enjoy having their heartstrings plucked; they just don’t want to see the author’s hands doing it!

There are enough plots to have a good career without ever using these weak sisters. I beseech authors to think twice before adopting a plot that is not likely to produce an above average reading experience.


  1. Hi Linnette:

    Thanks for stopping by and for following my blog. I hope you'll enjoy what’s to come!