Friday, August 26, 2011

5 WTF Moments in Fiction

We've all read novels where something happens to make us go, "WTF? " and I'm sure we've all written many. In reading and writing, I've come across enough to see that there seem to be different types.

1.) The "Contrived for Marketability" WTF: Maybe the editors wanted it, maybe the author guessed in advance that the editor would want it. Either way, there was a series I read in which I'm convinced the author put a love triangle in there just because love triangles have been popular in her genre. For one thing the "other guy" seemed to be just friends with the heroine until near the end of book one. For another, their few romantic incidents seemed forced. Finally, at the end, with no drama or fireworks, the character narrates that she picked the main guy, and other guy moved away to live happily ever after.I'm not a fan of love triangles but I don't mind them if they eventually have a point.

2.) The "Contrived to Please the Fans" WTF: When a series becomes really popular, there's online discussions everywhere speculating about which characters are going to do what and who next. One series I'm reading had many readers clamoring for 2 male characters to hook up. The problem was, only 1 was gay. So....all of a sudden, the straight guy turned gay. I'm sure plenty of fans are jumping for joy, but I'm just not buying it.

3.) The "Oh-Crap-I-Got-The-Characters-In-Too-Big-Of-A-Bind-And-Must-BS-My-Way-Out" WTF: We all know that action and tension is a main necessity in keeping the reader hooked, but it seems there are times where the author overdid it and had to manufacture a miracle so she may be free to move on to the next plot point...or worse, end the story. This is also known as Deus Ex Machina

4.) The "Why Did Nobody Think Of This?" WTF: Sometimes what's not there in a story is more baffling than what is. I read a novel in which a character became a political symbol and a catalyst for a revolution. The government seemed to do all they could to stop it from happening...except make the character ugly. With the people's obsession with image, it seemed an obvious solution...but then the bad guys would have won and there wouldn't be 3 books worth of awesomeness, so I'm prepared to forgive it.

5.) The Random WTF: Sometimes something happens in a story that comes out of nowhere...and I mean nowhere. Worse, it does nothing for the plot. Often those moments should be cut, but other times, they are teasers for future books. I have mixed feelings about these.

All of these WTFs have occurred at least once in books I've loved, so obviously they don't ruin the story...then again I've had some in my own writing that I know I'll have to fix.

What WTF moments have you written? In reading, which drive you closest to madness?


  1. The "did that just really happen?" WTF. It usually happens when the story or characters aren't consistent and something totally random flies into a scene. It pisses me off when I'm reading. I am currently reading a romance series with GREAT ideas and, what could be great characters, but they are so inconsistent and the story randomly wraps up around a climactic scene that wasn't so climactic. Well, there's that and the author uses two bodily euphemisms that make me want to punch a wall. I'm sorry, but there is nothing romantic or sexy about the "c" word.

    As far as writing, I am guilty of the proverbial "man behind the door". If I get stuck the crazy guy with the knife jumps out going "HA-HA" until I pull my head out and write something more creative. Usually works because I start laughing at myself and delete it almost immediately! :D

  2. LOL, I should try that sometime! I type in "Bow-chica-wow-wow" When I know the characters are gonna do it but don't feel like writing the scene yet. It's a fun placeholder.
    Heh. The male c-word or the lady c-word? I don't mind either if the situation warrants... unfortunately many don't.

  3. If using the "deus ex machina" to finish a story is a "sin" for the writters, then one of my favourite authors (Carlos Ruiz Zafón) is a huge sinner.

    In one of his books, for example, the evil character (who is no more than a 'mysteryous figure' during the story) turns out to be a vindictive demon that had become inmortal when he burnt himself in a train accidente. Well, in the context of the story it makes more sense, but still, it is too far fetched.

    Anyway, I love his stories and I´m a strong believer that the ending is one of the less important parts of a book. I mean, if I kept you hooked during 600 pages, would you hate me for not giving you a perfect ending?

    One of the most clear examples of this WTF moment is the ending of LOST. Still, it is the best f*** serie that I´ve ever seen!
    Still, his stories are awesome.

    I try not to follow their example, anyway, but I prefer to tie some loose ends in a doubtful way than having no ends at all to tie...

  4. I agree, I think the journey is more important than the destination. King's one of my fave authors and I think he's had a lot of sucky endings. Still good books, though.

  5. WTF were the writers of supernatural thinking? its hard to feel imperiled after the apocalyps has been averted.i love the show as much as anybody but rather see it die then be draged out for ratings.