Overdoing Things

What if I wrote a detective story and my hero was part of the police force that solved the crime? I mean Detective Jack was there and he contributed some part of the solution, but it was really a team effort. After all, Jack has a home life and three children, and he couldn’t spend his whole life solving crimes.

That might be a realistic story, but not a quality detective story.

What if I wrote a romance novel and my attitude was this: “You know if Sally gets her man, it will be good, but she’s got a great career as a shopper for a large department store, so she’ll be happy in the end.

Maybe that’ll be true, but it’s not a romance story.

What if I wrote a spy novel and my master sleuth, Sam Spy, did little more than report on what the local media was saying?

True, he would help show the big picture of the enemy society, but it wouldn’t be a great spy story.

When it comes to the issue of plot, we have to overdo things. If Jack doesn’t solve the crime almost by himself, the bad guys are going to win. If Sally doesn’t get her man, the free world is finished. If Sam Spy doesn’t knock off the evil bad guy, the enemy society will no doubt win.

It’s like painting a picture. If I want to paint a picture of war, I take out my red paint and maybe some black.  I’ve got to show that war is blood and death. Never mind that war might not be ALL that, I have to paint a picture of war that will stay in people’s mind.

I think this is an essential element of developing a plot – overdo the overdoingconsequences of failure. This leads to much more tension and excitement in the story.

What is your opinion? Do you ‘overdo things?


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