Fail, fail, fail, fail, succeed

“But It Doesn’t Make Sense” (Part 2)


Just to expound on yesterday’s post: Sometimes, not making sense is the point. Like if you’re reading fiction or watching a film and a character says or does something that doesn’t seem to make sense, maybe it’s because you don’t yet understand the character. If you’re the storyteller, however, at some point, you have to write the character so that their actions and the reasons for those actions become clear to the reader/viewer. Otherwise, they become distracted by feeling as if they’re missing some essential piece of the story.

There’s a trend in fiction and film today to withhold exposition, which can sometimes make finding one’s footing in a story feel tenuous. Alex Garland’s “Civil War” is a current example. The movie worked for me, but public response and reviews showed how angry people can get when nothing is explained to them.

This is a really tricky and interesting subject. How much should you explain, and how much should you leave open-ended for the reader to figure out on their own?

I guess the point here is to at least have a reason for your choices. You can’t please everyone, and if a reader doesn’t get the point, sometimes the story just isn’t for them.

Make sure, however, that it works for you.