1. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    How can I make the reader suspend disbelief with this type of ending?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Ryan Elder, Jan 3, 2016.

    I have a story, and I am not quite sure how to end it but have a few options. It's a crime thriller, and one option is for instead of the police coming to bust the villains, they want revenge on them for how they keep on getting away with their crimes.

    Since it's a screenplay, I tend to use movies as an example, and one movie that ends like that is Lethal Weapon 2. In that movie, the cops cannot arrest the villains because the villains have diplomatic immunity. After the villains get away with their crimes too many times, the two main cops decide to go kill them all.

    The two cops level the South African consulate to the ground, and kill a couple of dozen South African diplomats, since they were not legally able to touch them.

    Then at the end of the movie, everything is fine. In Lethal Weapon 3, they are still cops, who got away with mass murder, and nothing happened to them.

    Lethal Weapon 3 also has a similar ending. They decide to go kill the villains themselves, since the law is not doing anything about it and the way they get to the villains would not hold up in court at all, since they use death threats, and torture against criminals to get answers as to who is behind at all. So with doing that, they would never even be able to argue that they any probable cause to go shoot all of the villains later, since the information that lead to them was obtained through illegal means.

    However, in the third one, when they confronted the villains, they pointed their guns at them and told them to freeze, which is kind of a plot hole, because if they arrested them, they wouldn't be able to legally bring the case to court, so you might as well shoot without warning.

    Yet at the end of that movie, everything is fine, and the characters are still cops, and are happy and free.

    I was wondering, how do you write a story where the reader will enjoy an ending like that and be able to suspend disbelief? How do you get them to believe that?

    I was trying to research some real life examples of where something like this happened in real life, and the only one I was able to come across was Wyatt Earp, but that was over a century ago, and things have changed now.

    One idea, for my story off the top of my head, is that the cops who want to bring the villains down but cannot legally, could kidnap the leader of the organization's wife and kids, and threaten to kill them, unless the leader kills all of his subordinates, and then himself. He also has to make the police and the media, find the bodies in by a quick deadline, so they can all be confirmed, dead, or his family dies.

    The downside to the plan is is that they would have to believe that the villain would actually be willing to do that to save his family, rather than risk calling the honest cops for help. But that's just one idea, of how to get them, I could use others.

    So is their anything to be mindful of, when trying to make an ending like that, believable?

    Thanks for the input. I really appreciate it :).
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2016
  2. Matt E
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    Matt E Stormblessed Supporter

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    There's little proven evidence of this happening in real life, although there are many instances where people who commit particular egregious crimes are gunned down while being apprehended by the police. A lot of these are conspiracy theories in a way, so may or may not be correct, but it's likely that some are true. This is definitely a theme that emerges from time to time in detective novels: "if the only way I can prevent the killer from killing again is to break the law, then should I?" For many characters, fictional and perhaps real life as well, the answer to that question is yes.

    I don't think readers would need to suspend disbelief to accept this kind of ending. It is a common enough theme in the genre that readers will probably have seen it before. For the cops to come out unscathed, they'd need to set it up so that it looked like an accident, as if the criminals were killed by a rival gang, or such that no one ever discovers the corpses. You could also write the ending such that they end up getting caught. It's your choice though, of course.
     
  3. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Oh another thing I forgot to mention in my story is, is that I was thinking of having it so that the cops try to kill the villains but fail, so they are already on the run from the honest police. So they want to kill the villains but need to keep the honest police from stopping them in the process. So since the honest police are already after them, they will be the prime suspects, if they make it look like an accident.

    In Lethal Weapon 2 and 3 though, they didn't make it look like an accident, at least not competently. Their blood, DNA and prints would still be at the murder scenes, and they still got away with it.
     
  4. Matt E
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    Matt E Stormblessed Supporter

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    Fingerprints, etc. wouldn't necessarily put the blame on the police for orchestrating the attack, particularly if they were careful about leaving evidence. I haven't seen the movie though, so can't say for sure whether their cover-up was plausible. A police department though will always have an interest in helping the cover-up, because it looks very bad for them if some of their own are revealed to have gone bad.
     
  5. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Well that's the thing, both movies ended by skipping over the cover ups. They kill them all, but then everything is fine, and they don't explain it. So what I was wondering is, how do you take artistic licence like that without explanation for the reader in the end?
     
  6. Matt E
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    Matt E Stormblessed Supporter

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    I imagine the climax of the movie occurred when the cops killed the criminals. While the cover-up did happen, the main body of the story had already ended, so there was no real reason to include the cover-up in the narrative. Including it would just detract from the ending most likely. It's important for the writer to figure out these things, if for no other reason than to fix it in stone in case you need to include these details in a sequel, although these kinds of details should only be included inside the narrative if they add to the story.
     
  7. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks. But if I show the story to readers and say do they have any questions, one that will likely come up is, how did they get away with it? What's a good way for the writer to prevent the reader from asking that question in their own minds?
     
  8. Matt E
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    Matt E Stormblessed Supporter

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    There will always be questions, which isn't a bad thing, but I'm sure you can find a way to work these kinds of details in if you want to. It really just comes down to editing. When you're done with the story, you can decide whether those details need to go into the narrative or not.
     
  9. Sack-a-Doo!
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    The filmmaker got away with this because race was/is a hot topic and South Africa at the time was considered the most racist nation on Earth. This is the same sort of thing American filmmakers got away with during WWII with Nazis and in the last fifteen years with anyone from the Middle East.

    In any story, the protagonist(s) must be above reproach in any action taken to solve the story problem, so this would be considered cheating. The protagonist must face the antagonist head-on, no tricks, no dirty fighting, no lies... even if the protagonist is an anti-hero. He/she has to win the day through cunning, strength and/or by out-thinking the villain.

    Plant the protagonist's 'super-power' somewhere in the first act, but do it in such a way that the reader doesn't realize what it is until it's used against the villain in the third act.

    Give the protagonist a personal stake in the climactic fight, the type of personal stake that--if it were missing--the protagonist might not fight so hard to win.

    Read Dwight V. Swain's Techniques of the Selling Writer, Chapter 6: Beginning, Middle and End for a more thorough explanation.
     
  10. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks. But I don't think I can plant a superpower for the MC in the first act, because the MC keeps losing out to the villain and screwing up so badly, causing more and more tragedy. It's not until about the last third, that the MC gains the upperhand, so would he really have a superpower to begin with, if he keeps failing for the first two acts?
     
  11. Toomanypens
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    It is a matter of "the bigger of two evils" and "better the devil you know".
    You need to make the decision to kill the villains believable (then show that the law stopping them is "flexible" or "flawed" so that no viewer sides with it)
    You need to make NOT killing, much worse in the eyes of the reader.
    You want to establish a "my croney" kind of partnership with the character that gets away with it, because people give priviledge to those they percieve as likeable and someone they feel is harmless.

    Its about creating an INTENSE momentum that "shifts the rules" for a period of time. People get caught up in it too so stop questioning it too much.
    Violence on TV etc is really just symbolic anyways, usuually about overcoming resistance within oneself or whatever, and to show that a character is in peril.

    If you understand that violence is really just there to create other emotions, you can position it emotionally and people will buy into it more than if you just state that your character murders 12 diplomats.
     

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