Certain things will throw me completely out of whack when I’m watching a TV show or a movie. Blatantly empty coffee cups, weightless doors, the bland white light in windows that passes for the outdoors or sunshine, and phone conversations where the pauses are too short for a real response are the biggest ones off the top of my head.
These types of little things happen in writing too, and I’m certainly not immune. Looking back, from Ghost at His Back alone, I can think of two plot conveniences that don’t actually hold up when you really think about them. The first occurs when Brianna and Garrett learn where Jamie Finson Jr. lives by waiting until she’s boarded an elevator and then watching the numbers tick up. As anyone who’s ever seen a real elevator can tell you, those numbers don’t actually exist. It’s a plot contrivance I had to use in place of Murphy.
The second comes late in the novel, and there are mild spoilers here. Ready? Okay.
I couldn’t figure out how to have Garrett, Murphy, and Brianna figure out who the Butcher is, so I came up with that immensely stupid scene near the end where Garrett is relaying some of Murphy’s transcripted conversations between Jamie Finson Sr.’s people. He accidentally stutters, and it reminds Brianna of the guy they briefly met while tailing Jamie Finson Jr. It’s such a bizarre, awkward way of deducing things, when in retrospect all they had to do was take a drive around with Murphy, going back over all the steps of the investigation. Would’ve been far more natural and it possibly could have led to a getting-to-know-you scene between Brianna and Murphy (through Garrett), something that is conspicuously absent from that novel or Shifting Furies.
Is there any general shortcuts in books, movies, or TV that throw you off?