Sunday, October 15, 2006

A to Z with nothing in between

Last night I watched the movie Lord of War with Nicholas Cage, who's a illegal arms dealer. My boyfriend Jon and I debated the movie's merits. While we both agreed it was an excellent film cinematically, I simply didn't like the ending. The character had no redemptive qualities (he wasn't supposed to), and then the movie director added a tag line "based on real events" and then added another tag line of the countries that sell weapons. IMO, in doing that, the director went from A to Z without enough things in between. What had the potential to be powerful simply washed out as the viewer got thrust to the end--big climax, quick wrap up, fast letdown on part of viewer. If the director had a point, I wasn't quite sure exactly what it was as he'd lost me somewhere along the way. I kept waiting for more--not sure what, but something--and never got it.

I just read a book like that as well. The novel was excellent, all the way up until the end. The author had me. I cared about the character and understood the motivations. I related with the dilemmas. But then all of the sudden there's a huge emotional crisis. I'm talking huge. Not just a black moment, but the type of thing that people don't recover from without years of therapy. And magically, within pages, all is well, a few years pass, and everything's been wrapped up in a pretty bow. I kept thinking I'd missed something somewhere. But no, I'd been moved from A to Z with nothing in between. I felt cheated and let down.

I went back and read some reviews of the movie, and discovered I wasn't exactly alone in not necessarily having a good feel for it. I'll read more books by the author for I love her work. And I'll work on my own, and try to make sure I've brought my reader from A to Z, without missing any of the necessary parts in between.


Cheryl Bolen said...

Michele, I'd feel terribly cheated if those "middle letters" were left out of a story I'd invested in as a reader or viewer. You did a great job explaining this author ineptitude. I hope none of us PASIC members ever go from A to Z without making all the necessary stops along the way.

Michele Dunaway said...


I don't think I've read a book by a PASIC member where this has happened. But I do see it. It's almost like the writer was at the high end of the word count and poof, fast forward to the end, zipping the reader by the parts of the falling action that are extremely necessary.

Mysteries often do this and when they do I literally have to go back and try to connect the dots, and that drives me crazy. While I don't want the answer to be obvious, I do want to be able to smack myself on the forehead and go "duh! how could I have missed that!" (For one who does it right, go read Dick Francis.) I don't want to be like, huh, that's just improbable!