Friday, August 19, 2011

Lighten Up on Flawed Logic?

My monthly book club met tonight.  The book we were discussing was a thriller with an element of time travel.  It was a good book; we all enjoyed it.  But I happened to mention a couple logic flaws in the story and I was told that, because it was sci fi or paranormal or whatever, rules of logic didn't apply.

I have a problem with that.  I've always believed that when an author creates any kind of alternate reality, he/she sets the rules for that reality and then has to write the story to fit inside those rules.  This author didn't.  He violated his own rules several times for plot convenience, with no explanation.

I explained that to the group and was told basically to lighten up.  So there were a few holes in his logic.  What difference did it make? It was still an exciting story.

What difference did it make?  Well, it made a difference to me because a couple hours before the meeting I'd been pounding my head against my desk (ouch!) over a logic issue I'd found in my WIP.  I'd inadvertenlty given my protag an easy source for some information in chapter one that she's not suppose to find until chapter three.   It took me quite a while to come up with a feasible solution and it's going to take re-writing several scenes to fix it.  But why go to the trouble when all these regular mystery readers don't care.  When they all shrugged and asked what difference did it make?

What difference does it make?  As a reader or as a writer, do you think having a few mistakes in logic is okay as long as the story is exciting and fun to read?  How many is too many?  Please weigh in on this one.  I'm really interested.

Favor for a Friend:
Many of you know my buddy, Maria Zannini, is in the running for a  Book Cover Award for The Devil to Pay.  Maria designed the cover herself and it's great.  If you haven't already done so, please take a minute to hop over to this site and give her your vote.  (The voting is on the upper right side of the page.)  I'd really appreciate it.

Personal Note:
I just need to say a couple words here.  Later today I'm going to the memorial service for my daughter in law's mom, Linda Cover.  Linda was a woman of extraordinary courage who faced adversity with style and grace. She was the kind of person the world needs more of and she will be sorely missed.

It seems almost inappropreate to follow that with my usual groaner, but so many of you said you enjoyed Wednesday's and Linda was also a person of laughter so I don't think she'll mind.

Groaner of the Day:
Once upon a time there were two canaries in a cage, one male and one female.

After a few days together, the male decided to meet the female. He scooted over to her side of the cage and said, "Since we're in this together, why don't I move over to your side of the cage!"

The female canary replied, "No, thank you."

The male went back to his side of the cage but after a while decided to try again.  He hopped over to her side of the cage and said, "I am sorry I was so forward before. Why don't we get to know each other first."

To which she replied again, "No, thank you."

Feeling very shot down, he languished about for a bit then made one final effort. "Well, could we at least talk?"

This time she replied, "I'm sorry if I seem mean. But I just learned I have a canarial disease called, "Chirpies" and I'm afraid it's untweetable."

(forgive me)


Mike Keyton said...

Damn. The cookies have gone. Still, the groaner's pretty good :)

Ref plot-holes I think as in everything, it all depends. I find them irritating but the flaw might be compensated by other aspects of the book. The bottom line however is that the book remains flawed. But hey, it hasn't hurt Dan Brown's bank account.

mooderino said...

I don't think it needs to follow real world logic, but it does need to follow it's own world logic. Otherwise it's like any sotry someone tells you where you know they're just making stuff up.

If a friend told you an obvious lie and acted like it was true would you just think, oh, but it was a good story? I doubt it.


Dru said...

you are so forgiven, but I did laugh at the groaner today.

I gave Maria my vote.

Clarissa Draper said...

If you want an answer to your question, go to amazon and see what the reviews say, the people who review on amazon are really serious about their book and will chew an author alive if it bothers them a lot.

I will go vote for the cover now.

LD Masterson said...

Mike - Good point. I guess there's something to be said for being embarrassed all the way to the bank.

Misha said...

*groan* :-D

I agree with you on the rules thing. No offense to the members of your book club, but I'm thinking that none of them have ever tried writing a book?

I write fantasy and I spent months beating my head against a serious logic problem that made a major difference to the story.

And the point is, if a writer makes rules and then doesn't follow through on them, he's not a good writer, no matter how exciting the story might have been. He should have gotten the basics of writing a proper book down before he published.

LD Masterson said...

Mood - that's always been my view. Even if I made up the rules, to not stick with them is cheating. Plus it really pulled me out of the story.

LD Masterson said...

Dru - Thank you for both.

(it was "untweetable" that got me)

LD Masterson said...

Clarissa - I wonder if I can find any reviews on the book in question. Be interesting to see if the rest of the world was as forgiving as my book group.

LD Masterson said...

Clarissa - oh, and thanks for voting. I'd really love to drum up some votes for Maria. It's such a great cover.

LD Masterson said...

Misha - You're correct. No other authors in the group, just avid readers. The sad part is this author has several books out that have done quite well. The one in question is being made into a movie.

Isis Rushdan said...

Hi, LD. I wasn't one of your followers before, but after I read on Maria's site about how you lost your list, I had to follow you :).

I think you make a valid point regarding inconsistent logic. I write paranormal and urban fantasy. It's important to set up a set of rules when creating a world, and then stick to them.

Perhaps the author didn't realize the plot hole because they didn't have a critique partner, agent with a keen eye or editor who cared. I do try to cut authors slack because mistakes happen, but I do try my best to avoid those same mistakes in my own writing.

Anonymous said...

That was indeed a bit of a groaner LOL! We have a canary so I appreciate the humor. Have a great weekend!

LD Masterson said...

Isis - Welcome and thanks. I've been to your blog and returned the Follow favor. (Found your post today very interesting.)

LD Masterson said...

Stephen - Thanks for coming by. You have a great weekend, too.

Maria Zannini said...

I will stop reading a book if it asks the reader to make too many allowances.

I think the rule of thumb is that you get one 'gimme', after that you're on your own. It's possible this author had a poor editor because no editor I know will let that pass.

PS Thank you for the shout out!

Anonymous said...

Before I started studying the craft of writing I'd probably say most logic slips wouldn't be enough to worry about. If I wasn't pulled from the story I was fine.

Now, I'm much more aware of them and smaller errors will pull me from a story.

My goal as a writer is to put out the best story I can and that includes staying true to any rules of the world.

Great post!

LD Masterson said...

Maria - I'd go with the one gimme depending on how big the goof was. Once I hit "oh, come on" the story is ruined for me.

PS You're welcome.

LD Masterson said...

Raelyn - This is a group of all readers, no other writers. But I thought readers who get into the stories enough to attend monthly disussion groups would care more about the details. Maybe you're right. Maybe it's the writer in me that objected.

Jemi Fraser said...

Yikes! That's a huge groaner!!!

So sorry about your loss - sounds like the world is less rich without her in it. *hugs*

Logic flaws drive me nuts! I usually won't pick up another book by an author is they've got them.

Renee Miller said...

Even before I started taking my writing "seriously" (as in more than just a hobby I couldn't let go of) problems with logic in a story bothered me to the point that I'd stop reading. It has to make sense, but as one commenter said, that doesn't mean it has to make sense in the "real" world. As long as it's logical in the world that the author created, that's fine. If the world created has things like flying monkeys, obviously real world logic doesn't apply. But if those flying monkeys suddenly took over the world, I would expect to know how they managed such a thing, and their methods should be believable. Flying monkeys are pretty awesome, but awesome enough for world domination? I'm not so sure...

Angela Brown said...

May this lovely friend of your RIP...however I'm sure she'd get a hoot out of this Groaner.

Oh...and...there's nothing to forgive :-)

Lydia K said...

I am a total stickler for logic when it comes to world building. I have put down books when things didn't make sense. So I totally, 100% agree with you there!

Karin said...

I am a reader, not a writer but totally agree with you. If you are going to create an alternative universe, then stick with your own rules. It seems sloppy to let something like that slip through.


LD Masterson said...

Thanks, Jemi.

And yes! They make me absolutely nuts.

LD Masterson said...

Renee - Like you, I have no problems with a writer making up his/her own rules, but once they're in place, you gotta stick to them.

LD Masterson said...

Angela - Thank you. She was a lovely person. And she probably would have like the groaner. Glad you did.

LD Masterson said...

Lydia - Thanks. Nice to know I'm not the only one.

LD Masterson said...

Karin - If you found a logic flaw in one of mine I know I could trust you to call me on it.

Darke Conteur said...

I write paranormal and scifi, and I'm sorry, but your book club is wrong.

When you write in these genre's, it's more important to make sure the logic/science is sound. It's all part of 'weaving a tale that will suspend belief'. I got that notion from a scriptwriting blog I read. Same principal applies to movies too, btw.

If a writer can create a story that makes the reader think and feel like the situation could happen, then they've done their job well. Anything that pulls the reader out of the story, or suspends that sense of believability, breaks the flow of the story.

You shouldn't lighten up, you should demand better.

Gail M Baugniet said...

Thanks for visiting my blog, Linda. I voted for Maria's novel and groaned appropiately over several of your blog jokes.

If your book group is for aspiring writers, I agree with all of your comments and understand your frustration. You research and rewrite to present your best work to the reader without expecting them to suspend common sense.

But if you meet as a group of readers, you have taken on the task of trying to convince the other readers in the group that, as a writer, you know their opinions as readers are flawed. You offer a good argument.

LD Masterson said...

Darke - Thanks. I guess I needed to know I wasn't a voice crying in the wilderness. I agree, it's more important to rule the rules of logic when you're asking readers to follow you out of one reality into another.

LD Masterson said...

Gail - Thanks for the vote for Maria. Hope those were good groans.

The group was all readers, no other writers, but I was still surprised that they were willing to accept mistakes that pulled me right out of the story. I've always thought mystery readers had higher expectations.

Liz Fichera said...

I'm sorry to hear about your daughter's mother-in-law.

Regarding logic, I think it depends on the story. While every detail doesn't have to be explained (give the reader some credit for being able to make the leap from Point A to Point B), if a particular detail is critical to advancing the story forward, then I think it should be explained. As your book club revealed, some readers care; others don't. There's no way to please everyone.

LD Masterson said...

Thank you, Liz.

I agree on not needing detailed explanations (giving the reader some credit). The flaw that caught me, unfortunatly, would have required something. Think: hero tied up on the railway tracks with the train approaching and then he's somewhere else where no explanation of how he got free.

What really struck me was no one in the froup seemed to notice until I pointed it out. Lots of blind faith in that group I guess.