Thursday, March 12, 2015

Enough or too Much

Life is a lot like scrambled eggs or this winter's weather.  Here in the west we've had a few snow storms, but nothing like the East coast has seen and not enough to ensure next summer's water supply.  Daffodils and crocuses are blooming.  I've seen a few robins, but the weatherman keeps assuring viewers we have more snow coming. My husband has been trimming roses, building tomato cages, and clearing leaves out of the flower beds, but keeping the snow blower easily accessible. 

A dear sister-in-law died this week and we have a niece whose wedding we'll attend next week. A nephew was a top scorer on an academic placement exam last week and a niece was the top scorer for her ice hockey team that finished second in state. 

Most people's lives are a series of contrasts, surprises, and unexpected jolts.  As writers struggle to make their stories realistic they walk a fine line between creating the unexpected and sticking to the main focus of the story.  Too many of life's intrusions and coincidences turn a story into a chaotic, confusing mess.  Not enough, makes the story incomplete and unbelievable. The perfect blend makes a story both memorable and enjoyable. 

A well placed element of the story which leads the reader to a wrong conclusion is called a red herring.  Even a red herring, however, must add to the story in a realistic way and enlarge the general picture the hero/heroine faces, though it doesn't lead to the solution to the mystery.
Life might be a bit boring if it flowed smoothly according to plan at all times. Books are like that too. As a reviewer for Meridian Magazine, I read a lot of books, and have been particularly aware lately of authors who achieve a nice balance in providing contrasts and enough day-to-day interference with their characters' objectives to feel realistic.  I've also read way too many that detail every second of the character's life and wander around in pointless trivia. Someone told me she skips over at least half of what she sees posted on Face Book.  May I suggest that if you'd skip over it on Face Book, don't put it in your novel?

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As a side note, please check out my reviews of four military and war books on Meridian.

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