Has anyone watched the Netflix series “Sweet Tooth”? It’s a show plotted like so many these days: some event happens, some people (in this case children) are endowed with special characteristics, people are out to get them but they are the future, the hope, the salvation for the earth. It’s crazy how this theme is repeated over and over only made entertaining by how creative the setting or inciting event is.
But that’s not what this blog post is about.
In the first episode of Sweet Tooth, and this is not a spoiler, so no worries, there’s a man with a baby strapped to his chest and a huge awkward pack on his back. He is walking through the woods and comes upon a log cabin partially hidden by trees and overgrown plants. The next scene, the man and baby are moved in and have all they need for a happy life.
My literal, realist self jumped on that with a complaint. Old, dirty, abandoned cabin turns into a homestead without showing any of the transition, really? How did he do that with a baby to take care of? What about windows? They couldn’t all be not broken. What about food until that garden started producing? Questions, questions, questions. Yes, there was a part of me that wanted all the logistics worked out, explained, made plausible (plausibility is greatly lacking in these copy cat plots). But then there was the part of me that really just wanted to get on with the show.
Did I really need any of those details? No. In fact sometimes I wish life could sail past the boring stuff of, “and then”, “and then”, “and then”.
Well, guess what? Good writing, especially fiction, not only can depict lives sailing past the mundane details of life, it should. Jumping to the next place or circumstance without explaining how everything got to that point is a tool to keep the reader focused on what’s important.
Look through your latest work. Do you get too deep in the details and call it world building? Do you feel the need for events to be clearly chronological? Have you used words to answer questions that really have nothing to do with the plot?
Seriously, I may have had my doubts about how that cabin became so perfect, but I can assure you the plot moved right on and I didn’t miss it because I was drawn into the story.
Write on, but don’t sweat the details or gaps.
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