Friday, May 21, 2010

Inconsistency

We interrupt the regularly scheduled post . . . okay, I didn't have a regularly scheduled post, but the whole interrupt thing sounded good. I meant to have a scheduled post. Truly I did. It just didn't happen.

So, what to do, what to do?? I have no clue. Oh no, I made a rhyme, and it took no time. Ooops, I did it again . . .

Yes, dear readers, it looks like it's going to be one of those days. Luckily, I'm the only one in my department at work today. My co-workers just don't know how lucky they are not to be here with me in an ultra-snarky mood! Ha!

So, I was watching Grey's Anatomy last night. Lots of violence. Lots of bloodshed. Lots of tears. But, in the midst of all the violence and bloodshed, there was one of those glaring moments that pulled me out of the story and made me go WTH!!!!! Yes, WTH!!!

Here I was, all involved in the story and - BAM (no, not another gunshot, but there were plenty of those - the first was the worst) - I'm totally pulled out of the story by the dreaded monster known as: Inconsistency.

As writers, we need to have a consistency with our characters: who they are, what they do, and how they react. If are characters suddenly go off-kilter, do something totally off the wall, something that makes no sense at all, then more likely than not, we are going to pull the readers out of our stories of brilliance and make them go: WTH!!! This is what happened in the last 15 minutes of the first hour of Grey's Anatomy.

A few episodes ago, I don't know how many, the entire episode centered around a man suing the hospital for his wife's death. Derek Shepherd (McDreamy for those in the know) spent the majority of the episode in a conference room with this man and a team of lawyers defending what he did (pulling the plug on the man's wife). An entire episode. A conference room. Sitting across the table from this man.

Now, for me, I would remember this moment. I would remember defending my actions. I would remember staring across the table at this broken man. I would remember the look of hatred in the man's eyes.

Apparently, McDreamy did not! WTH! Yes, he totally forgot this man. Did I mention that Lexi Grey - the lucky resident who actually disconnected the machines - remembered this man when she saw him? And Dr. Weber, the former Head of Surgery, when told the man's name remembered him? And yet, dear McDreamy had no clue who the man was when he was standing three feet from him. Okay, the man was pointing a gun at him. BUT . . . he'd spent most of a day in a conference room sitting across from the man a few weeks, maybe a month, earlier! He should have remembered.

INCONSISTENCY!

Why was McDreamy the only one not to recognize this man?

To me, this just didn't make sense. He should have recognized the man. There should have been some glimmer, some something, no matter the stress he was under knowing there was a shooter in the hospital and that people were dying.

I shouldn't have been ripped out of the story to go WTH and then try to immerse myself back in the story.

So, in tying all of this into writing: make sure your character's don't make your readers go WTH!

It's not a good thing when that happens, trust me on that!

I have a character who has retribution sex after finding out his wife has been cheating on him . . . for years. Now, before he learned all of this, he was faithful, he was stable, and . . . then his world began to crumble. He was hurt, he was angry, and he acted out in a way that . . . made sense. His reaction to the situation, based on all that had been written about him before . . . made sense. McDreamy's amnesia did not make sense. There was a consistency with my character (not that I'm in any way saying I'm a better writer than those on Grey's Anatomy) that wasn't present with McDreamy in that one scene.

A reader/viewer shouldn't ever have to go WTH! Consistency with our characters needs to remain, well, consistent!

5 comments:

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I quit watching Grey's Anatomy years ago (not enough time). You're the second person to mention it on the blogs I followed this morning. (not that she mentioned what you did). I'm beginning to think I might have to start watching it again in the fall. :)

I probably wouldn't have noticed the inconsistency. McDreamy and McSteamy have that effect on me. ;)

Elana Johnson said...

I don't watch this show, but I certainly see your point. And it's a great one. :)

Scott said...

Stina - I don't watch the show on a regular basis, just every now and then. It just so happens I caught the episode that set up last night's bloodfest. It was a really well done show except for that one WTH moment.

Elana - it's all about keeping the reader, and/or viewer, totally involved from beginning to end.

Lauren said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog! I totally get what you're saying about the need to be consistent. I thrive on consistency in live, so I bet that episode would have thrown me off the way it did you.

Lady Glamis said...

Ah, yes, consistency is sooo important. It's important to know our characters well enough to be able to stick to them consistently. I think I have a problem with this in first drafts, but hopefully I iron out all that in later drafts. :)