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“If the real world were a book, it would never find a publisher. Overlong, detailed to the point of distraction-and ultimately, without a major resolution.” — Jasper Fforde
I found the above quote on Goodreads, and I find it so true and so amusing.
Isn’t it funny that when we are reading a book, we tend to think, “gee, what were the odds of that happening?”
Or, “Man, that was quick!”
Or, “Wow, how convenient that that happened!”
In other words, there are events in a book that seem to happen too easily, or a necessary character who so conveniently appears at the right moment. Or what would take a long time to occur in real life seems to happen in a few pages.
I agree that it seems silly when you step back and look at the story with a more critical eye, but like that Jasper Fforde quote explains, it makes sense. If books were to portray life exactly as it is, they would be very long and very boring. The story will be drawn out and drag until what needs to happen happens. If that were the case, no one would do any reading.
So it is important for novels to cut to the chase, so to speak, or else writers would lose their readers, more so these days especially. When I was writing my book, The Dark Proposal, I originally had Claire’s relationship with Daniel develop at a pace more common with real-life couple. But a member of my writer’s group pointed out that because people today have short attention spans, I needed to make the relationship develop quicker.
So I did. I made the two characters become a couple much sooner than I planned. I think it was good advice that I took because it is true what the person said. And besides, my book is not about how Claire and Daniel became an item; it is about how Claire deals with the horror of Daniel forcing her to choose to become a vampire. There was no room to focus on the early stages of their relationship.
But it is funny how writers use short cuts in their stories and make certain situations happen almost by a miracle. Heck, it even happens in TV shows and movies. Remember the Oscar winning film, Slumdog Millionaire? Even though I really like the movie, I find it amusingly odd how Jamal was able to find his true love Latika so easily in Mumbai, a city of 20 million. He was even able to quickly track down his brother from a database that probably had the contact information of everyone in India – and that is over 1 billion people!
Silly and even absurd as it sounds, it works for the story. Writers have to make it easy for things to happen so the true point of the story remains the focus. Dwelling on the more realistic speed of relationships developing or finding people ruins the story, and audiences will lose interest. It is a fact, no matter how often audiences will say, “what were the chances of that happening?”
The trick, I believe, is not too make it too obvious. Don’t make such moments so forced and certainly don’t make it happen too often. But don’t worry if you realize a scene or character is too convenient for the story. You’ll be making the novel more easier to read for your audience and they won’t get bored. If there were an author out there who knew the secret to avoid all too convenient moments, I suggest we all hunt that person down so we’ll know his or her secrets! LOL!