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Home » Archives » October 2007 » Hello, Good Buy
[Previous entry: "Tough Talk About The Deficit"] [Next entry: "On Top of Mount Percentile"]

10/30/2007: Hello, Good Buy

Sometimes you just have to ask the audience to make a "buy". Your story might require that they accept some piece of invented technology or a small coincidence or perhaps a slightly flawed plan on the part of a villain. I've talked in the past about one way to make a buy more palatable, namely by "hanging a lantern" on it, which means actually pointing the unlikelihood out to the audience and simply owning it. If a character says, "Wow, that was kind of a weak plan," then your audience tends to relax and accept the weak plan as a part of the story, instead of feeling cheated. Again, it's all about feeling like you're in the hands of a confident writer who is aware of what they have created.

But even with a good stockpile of lanterns, you have to be careful. One buy per script is a good maximum. If you've come up with a great intricate bank heist with split-second timing and a stunning surprise resolution and it requires that a guard turn away from a security monitor at an important moment, well, that might be okay. But if it also requires that the armored car driver wouldn't use his cell phone to report a malfunctioning radio... well, then you might want to see what you can do to come up with some logical non-lantern-hanging explanation that will eliminate one of your buys.

Over and over again, I discover that people who are merciless viewers, snorting at the screen about plot points that they find dubious, can be shockingly cavalier about similar holes in their own plots. Perhaps they've decided that sloppiness from others excuses their own. Nope. If it would make you snort when someone else does it, it should make you snort at your own pages.

Lunch: "Santa Fe Salmon Salad" -- I didn't like the sound of it, but it was quite good


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