Writing a story versus just setting a scene

I got a rejection letter today for one of my short stories. Since I’m feeling rather blue, I’m going to write a blog post about something that really ticks me off. Call me old fashioned, but I like a story in the novels I read as well as movies I watch. A story has a set up, a middle, and an end. It has a main plot and often subplots that give us closure. We should walk away feeling satisfied.

Lately it seems, I have been reading more than a few pieces of fiction that has no plot.(I am concerned with hurting any small time independent authors, so I will talk about someone who won’t be hurt: George R.R. Martin.)  When I read Dance with Dragons, I had no idea why anyone was doing anything, there was a new character I didn’t give a crap about. All it felt like was a place holder for the next book. I read it almost a year ago and it still just pisses me off.

I’ve seen it lately in films too. I just watched We need to talk about Kevin (2011)  Note: apparently the book explains more than the movie does and I am talking about the movie. It seemed like a family character sketch. Dad was such an idiot, he looked the other way as Kevin becomes more and more vicious. We saw Mom take him to the doctor, but this is a middle class family. And I am supposed to just believe that in 15-16 years of his life, she didn’t go to counseling once? That a counselor or whoever would  look the other way. That his teachers, guidance counselors, etc would look the other way? And even if they did. Mom didn’t take her daughter out of that house the moment she found the dead guinea pig or hell even after Kevin poured drain cleaner on his little sister. Are you freaking kidding me?

But beyond the mistakes of the parent’s: why was I ultimately unsatisfied?

BECAUSE THERE IS NO PLOT!!! And what little plot there was got mixed up because the out of sequence storytelling.

We have no idea why Kevin does anything that he does. We don’t know why he is an angry kid. Even at the end, we do not know.

In another family drama, Denise DeSio‘s Rose’s Will (which I reviewed last fall) there was a plot. Mom and daughter don’t get along. Daughter goes off and makes her own life… Younger Son stays home and takes care of mom…. Stuff happens, then we get closure on the plots and subplots. I feel satisfied and write a good review!

I tend to love reading Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Joe Hill, Tanya Huff because they are all masters of the plot.

So to sum up: all stories should have a plot line. If you are writing and lose your plot, then you will lose interest of the readers.  I don’t care no matter how many interesting characters are in the story if they are not doing anything or making such stupid decisions that it becomes unbelievable, the reader will walk away unsatisfied.

Thank you for reading…I am sure my next post will be much more happy.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. I think if you believe in the quality of what you write, eventually it get acepted by all. Keep writing 🙂

    Reply

    • Thank you Manoj,

      I suppose I believed the myth that “once I get my novel published it will be smooth sailing” Nope, I’m still getting rejection on other things. 🙂

      Reply

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