You know what drives me nuts? Well, its a big list actually… but here is a quick, one-topic piece from my early AM thoughts.
But the thing that I’m talking about right now is the wear a neon sign, punch you in the face plot hook. Picture it, you’re all alone in a bar when all of the sudden a man walks in, dressed in black, a cloak over his head, thick fur lining the shoulders of a clearly rich velvet garment. On his belt is a sword of silver and gold inlaid with jewels that hums softly as it bounces against his heavy plate armor leggings. He sits in a table far off in a corner, the normal peasant folk around him scatter quietly like rats. He looks at you, and smiles.
OH MY GOD, did you see that? A plot hook just walked into the bar. He is far too extravagant, had far too much description devoted to him when the only other thing we know about the scene is that there is a bar and we appear to be in it. The appearance of that bar is left entirely up to guess. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing mind you I actually enjoy building very small bits of description up to the point where the major components can be forged by the readers imagination. That’s a lot more fun for me.
The fact that a big behemoth of a line just lumbered in makes me a little sad and I start to cringe. Yes plots are meant to be followed closely, at least to where you are going to be able to pick up on the major elements and perhaps the smaller ones with a second or third read or thoughtful discussion. They are not intended to be so linear as to create a box, undefinably rigid and narrow in its ability to let you build images of your own.
I will concede that there are times when this works, on occasion it is acceptable and the emergence of “Commander I’m clearly a Bad Guy” is okay. But to achieve such frequency as to join the ranks of the Head Manager in Charge of Leading and Directing at the Department of Redundancy Department is not a good thing. If you have to do it, keep it to a minimum. The villains that truly succeed and in a memorable manner are those that remain subtle, that take a measure of the backstage when plotting their plots. They don’t always have to be entirely unrecognizable as that does nothing to progress plot but, lets not swing to far in the other direction either shall we?
It’s all about balance, limits, trying to find something between “still living” and “fit for the gods” as it were.