marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,
marycatelli
marycatelli

a man's gotta a plan

And he's not gonna tell you what it is.

I used to find the scene cut at the point where the hero stands up and says, "Now this is what we are going to do." very, very, very annoying.  Cut straight to the people running about doing stuff and you get to see what the plan is when it unfolds.

But, what are you going to do?  If something throws a spanner in the works, you can tell the readers the plan, so they can realize that's a spanner.  But if the plan works, it's redundant to both describe it and then show it.  And very few people want to opt for the Tam Lin format, where the ballads recount his telling her at great length what to do, and then we get:
Sae weel she minded what he did say,
And young Tam Lin did win,
Things are generally more dramatic when seen than when explained, and instead of seeing the plan work its way drearily to the end, we have the lures of both curiosity about what they are doing and the desire to see what happens next.

It does create point of view issues:  it's often unrealistic to show their thoughts entirely focused on what they are doing and not its significance, but if they think about what it means there goes the plan.  A lot of writers pull back and just show what there is to be seen.

Of course then there's the solution of never having a plan work right.
Tags: discovery, dramatic tension, narrative drive, plot devices, plot twist, point of view, story structure, transition
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