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Sunday, April 10, 2011

I is for Inconsistency

Okay, I admit it...I like CSI Miami, or used to.  I haven't watched it very often since they moved it to Sunday evenings but I managed to remember tonight and honestly I wasn't very impressed.  Besides the fact that all the CSI guys are out in the field searching buildings, interrogating suspects and arresting the bad guys, they do things that no self-respecting cop would. 

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.

12 comments:

Angeline said...

I'm a big fan of CSI too! These days people tend to blindly believe anything they see on the tv or the internet, but if you do your research you can never be called on it. Make sure you put a thank you page in your books thanking all the people that helped you get the facts right so your readers know you did your research!

V.R. Leavitt said...

Yeah...that can be very, very frustrating. I remember some awful inconsistencies in X-Files back in the day. It was probably not noticeable if you weren't from the DC area, but among me and my friends, it was the source of a good laugh or a loud groan.

Brianna said...

I haven't watched CSI: Miami since it moved to Sunday nights, but I did enjoy it. I always wondered why Horatio got away with things that Grissom would never get away with or even Mac Taylor from CSI: New York. Very inconsistent writing with these shows.

Karen Walker said...

Yes, those kinds of things annoy me as well. Pulls me right out of the story. Great "I" post. Nice to "meet" you on this challenge.
Karen

Angela Felsted said...

Seems to me that keeping the reader in the story is one the writer's hardest and most important job.

Jean said...

It really is. Especially since there are so many other distractions to compete with. We (the writer) sure doesn't need to give the reader any reason to put the book aside.

Sherry said...

Hi Jean,
I've been wondering what you've been up to since my LRWG days:)
Love your blog.

Jean said...

Hey girl! Long time no see.:-)

Sherry said...

Hey, forgot to mention... I love CSI, but know what you mean about inconsistencies. However, in writing, it really depends on whether the writer is writing about today's laws or from times gone by. I worked in a sheriffs department some years ago, and the things we did back then would cause some big problems today, could even be called downright illegal, but it wasn't then.
PS
Love the troll, is he the same one used to have a hard time staying out of trouble on LRWG? Nice to finally see the little squirt.
If you get a chance stop by my blog http://sherryswebofmurder.blogspot.com/

Jean said...

Hey girl! Long time no see.:-)

Karen Walker said...

Yes, those kinds of things annoy me as well. Pulls me right out of the story. Great "I" post. Nice to "meet" you on this challenge.
Karen

Angeline said...

I'm a big fan of CSI too! These days people tend to blindly believe anything they see on the tv or the internet, but if you do your research you can never be called on it. Make sure you put a thank you page in your books thanking all the people that helped you get the facts right so your readers know you did your research!