Sunday, April 10, 2011
I is for Inconsistency
For example, tonight one of the characters let himself get beat up by the bad guy. First, this particular bad guy was an expert in some form of martial arts. Second he was carrying a gun and had already killed several people. So, what does CSI guy do...get within reach and get himself beat up.
Next, when the bad guy is finally brought down, one shot to the chest by the way, the head CSI guy strolls up to him and makes a "witty, sarcastic" remark while the guy is laying there with a gun in his hand. Which of course, he raises and tries to fire. (That earns bad guy another bullet and ride to the morgue.) Anyone who knows police procedure knows one of the first thing a cop's gonna do is get the weapon from the bad guy, probably by using his foot to slide it out of the way.
Maybe it didn't bother some folks but that kind of inconsistency bothers me. It's like when characters put silencers on revolvers. (And yes I know they really aren't silencers but that's what they are called by most people.)
My better half was in the military and worked in the Munitions area. He knows bombs and missles. What they look like, how they work, which airplanes they go on and just how many can be carried by an aircraft. It drives him almost over the edge when he watches a show that get those things wrong. It doesn't bother me cause I don't know any better. (What bothers me is his ranting about how the plane can only carry 4 of a certain missle and but just fired #15.) :-)
All of that to say, get your facts straight.
Here's another thing to think on. Not long ago, my critique group called the police procedure in my WIP into question. I was pretty sure I'd done enough research and had it right but I did some more research and talked to a sheriff's officer and ran my scene past him. I was indeed correct. My police procedure was spot on.
My guess is, and I'm not sure, but I figure my critiquers have watched crime shows and were going by what the officers on the show were doing. And that's cool. I realized later the reader may have the same expectation so I need to make sure they know that my procedure is proper. When I revise that scene I'll do some tweaks so it's not a big deal.
The thing is, we don't want to throw readers out of our stories. Either by getting the facts wrong, or by getting them right and the reader having a different expectation.