a defense, of sorts, of HP

jstallcup at juno.com jstallcup at juno.com
Sun Feb 22 16:40:18 EST 2004


Sally asked:  does this mean that plotting skill is totally unimportant
to the majority of readers? 

A good question.  I don't think that it is that plot is totally
unimportant to the readers I work with.  I think that plot is (as you
point out) secondary to style and (for my readers) character.  They get
caught up in the world and in the trials and tribulations of the
characters and don't notice the plot holes.  And, as Gili pointed out,
the plots are fast-paced and suspenseful, which can sort of make the
reader dash over the holes without falling in.  That was my experience,
too, which is probably why I enjoy the books so much and can still enjoy
them.  I don't see the plot holes if I am focusing hard enough on each
little set piece, which is enjoyable as itself.  

This also makes me think of what someone else said about the plot holes
can't be so big that you see them as they are happening.  I agree.  As
long as they aren't bopping me on the head on the first read, I can
ignore them on subsequent reads.  One book in which the plot hole DID
whack me upside the head on the first read:  Hero and the Crown.  Totally
turned me off the book and off McKinley (which I'm sure is unfair to her
as a writer but...).  If you are interested in the plot hole....


spoiler space, just in case


the main character climbs this tower that is so tall it takes her
hundreds of years to get to the top--huh?  Well, ok. (but, come on,
wouldn't you stop after a couple of days and say, wait, this isn't
working.  What kind of fool would climb for hundreds of year???)   She
defeats the guy in it and falls out to find that so much time has passed
that the landscape is unrecognizable and her friends are all gone.  Hmm. 
Ok, I can still buy that, I suppose.  Someone appears and says, oh, by
the way, last time you were injured, I just sort of made you immortal. 
WHAT? Oh, that's convenient, isn't it.  Just made you immortal.  Oh, and
we can undo the whole time travel problem by just traveling back in time,
and here we go and here are all your friends waiting for you.  WHAT???? 
So they go back in time and all is hunky dory?  How could that be?  Isn't
the past self still climbing the stairs?  Isn't the bad guy still alive
at the top of the stairs?  What on earth was the point, then, of making
the stair climbing take all that time?  

Am I remembering this wrong, or is this part of the plot really this
stupid and pointless?  I could never bring myself to go back and reread
it to find out.  

Jackie

On Sun, 22 Feb 2004 14:00:58 +1100 "Sally Odgers" <sodgers at tassie.net.au>
writes:
> > On the other hand, some of you will remember what a hell of a time 
> I have
> > had teaching DWJ books!  Something just seems to make them 
> difficult for
> > me to interact with students over.
> 
> Popularity and quality don't always go together (the R.L. Stine 
> books I read
> had Holes). but - and it's a Big But(t) (sorry) - does this mean 
> that
> plotting skill is totally unimportant to the majority of readers? I
> sometimes read nearly plotless books because I'm beguiled by the 
> authors'
> styles, and sometimes I read books I know have pace problems because 
> -
> ditto - but as a writer I value plot coherence (sp?) enormously and 
> will do
> my utmost to make plots hang together properly.
> 
> "Would He Really?" is my watchword, and "Why Didn't He Just..." my 
> bane.
> 
> So - is Plot imPortant?
> 
> To me, Style comes first, then Character + Plot at deadheat 2nd.
> 
> Sallyo.
> 
> 'Enough, thou garrulous garnish!' - Becca of Braveria.
> 
> 
> 
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