Friday, July 23, 2010

Did I Blink?

The other day, I was watching a TV show, and at the end of one episode, the MC came to the mistaken conclusion that one of his closest friends had, to put it bluntly, had sexual congress with the MC's ex-girlfriend. I became rather excited, because I thought we were about to observe High Interpersonal Drama. Very happiness-inducing, I promise. However, when I did the natural thing and flipped to the next episode expecting great drama to unfold, something very shocking happened. Nothing!

That's right, absolutely nothing happened. Not a single character mentioned this mistaken belief on the part of MC and MC's Best Friend. And, as a viewer, I took that moment to pause, wave my hands emphatically at the screen, and demand of nobody in general and the universe at large, "What the what?"

Because it might just be me, but if I thought that someone I considered a close friend had had physical relations with someone I was secretly in love with, then I'd say something. Just, you know, if might have come up, possibly the second I found out, possibly at great volume. But that might just be me. And -- now I'm just spit balling, so correct me if I'm wrong -- but I think that's most people.

[Okay, I feel compelled to interject this now, I am not a euphemistic person in real life. In actual reality, I can be an upfront, honest, even blunt person. However, I still feel inside me a pernicious and irrational fear that somehow, somewhere, there is an alien life form showing this blog to my kindly, but old-fashioned and occasionally puritanical aunt. Just a feeling I get sometimes.]

Back on topic, I was left, after watching those two episodes, with the uncanny feeling that I had somehow blinked and missed the important and relationship-altering -- not to mention highly interesting -- drama. There was no emotional follow-through.

There should be emotional follow-through. People do not have emotions in little box-like units of time. An event occurs, people feel things as a result, and those feelings effect future actions. Nothing happens in a vacuum. There are effects. Like ripples in a pond. One cannot just chuck a pebble/shoe/small human being into a pond and not expect an ripples to result.

Let's say your MC got her heart broken by a short person and chucked this person bodily into a lake before driving home. Said MC would be unlikely to show up at home perfectly alright again. She'd probably stop on the way home for ice cream, or have a problem with someone at home because she's snippy because of the heartbreak, or there might be angry cops on her porch because of whatever happens when you chuck people in lakes and she'd cry in front of them. There'd be results.

Have you ever come across an event in a story you thought should elicit a reaction but turned out to be nothing? How did this make you feel?


  1. That's one thing I hate about mainstream television...compartimentalization. Things often don't play out on the screen as they would in real life because the TV writers and producers have to break things up into segments and balance the juiciness. We see snippets of scenes where important information is shown, but then they cutaway to a different scene, ignoring the human drama that would have normally ensued.

    I hope I never feel like I have to do that with my writing.

  2. DL -- I think compartmentalization might just have been the problem in that show. They just skimmed past the dramatic period of time in the following episode to get to something they'd rather focus on. While compartmentalization is, to a certain extent, important in a story, I think these writers might have picked the wrong compartment.