1. SwampDog
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    SwampDog Contributing Member

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    Skyfall, and the issue of cheating the reader

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by SwampDog, Jan 4, 2015.

    Skyfall - Bond is on top of the train, gets shot, falls a looong way, under water so deeeep. Dead, of course (or ought to be). But he's Bond, and he comes back. The viewer is not given any information on how he survived, and any tale to that effect would be logical and plausible anyway. Because it's Bond.

    My character is as good as dead, having been thrown off the flight deck of a carrier with a helicopter wheel chock and chain around his neck. Does the reader need to know how he survived? Or may they wonder for long enough? After all, he's not Bond. Would they feel cheated if they didn't know?

    It doesn't move the plot forward, only answers the question. This is what I have for the last scene at the end of the first chapter:

    My questions are (I know it needs working on if kept...):
    Does the last scene need to be there to explain survival of my protag?
    If so, are the last two paragraphs a reasonable way to move on ten years to chapter 2?

    Thanks for consideration.
     
  2. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    Correct me if I'm wrong but flight decks are circa 20m above the water, and professional cliff diving is circa 25-30m. I could believe he survived, with severe injuries, since he hit a boat on the way down and sort of flopped into the water (rather than hitting the water feet first which might have minimised injuries).

    20 m is about a 5 or 6-storey building. There have been cases of a car absorbing the impact of a falling body and them walking away unscathed from similar heights, the boat may have had the same effect.
     
  3. SwampDog
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    SwampDog Contributing Member

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    The murder victim landed in the sampan - after a fight, the protag was then thrown off the flight deck by the murderer (second splash).

    Without doubt survivable. And the reader knows he survived. But does the reader need to know how? Could survival be implausible to the reader unless explained? He's not Bond.
     
  4. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    No, I don't think it needs explaining if it is not relevant. But reference to his physical rehabilitation would make sense, particularly since it would undoubtedly be quite a traumatic experience (even if this was just a reference to some residual pain).
     
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  5. FrankieWuh
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    FrankieWuh Active Member

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    Yep, and it's a book, not a movie, which also changes things. You can get away with such things more in a film because of its pace (90 mins to 2 hours) though for a book you risk irking your reader ("how the fcuk did he survive that?") and without plausible explanation, irking goes on to frustration and then the reader never reads on.

    Also the problem for anything like this is that if he survives certain death, what else will he survive? It can destroy all peril and suspense if this happens too early in a story unless it's part of an 'impossible' franchise like Bond. Or it's a fantasy that's driven by action and humour, for example, rather than realism and suspense.

    This is a survivable event, true but if you look at Bourne for example, there are repercussions even when it isn't completely explained at the start (it is at the end as I recall). Just a thought.
     
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  6. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd be pissed if I read this in a book and then didn't get an explanation, for sure. It wouldn't have to come right away, but I'd want to know eventually.
     
  7. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    Maybe in the book (Skyfall) there is an explanation of how Bond survived and what he did during his recovery. You have to think about the time restraints where movies are concerned so as his survival and recovery gave nothing to the story, it wasn't put in the film. (I haven't read the book, I'm just surmising here).

    But, would the reader feel cheated? I'm not so sure. Pirates of the Caribbean, how did Jack Sparrow explain his escape from the island? Something along the lines of "I fashioned a rope from my own hair and lashed a couple of sea turtles together ..." Totally unbelievable and, as we eventually find out, untrue. But that doesn't mean you have to explain everything.

    If your character lives, he lives. There will be readers that say "no way, how could he survive? I don't care, thank god he survived!" just like when I write a death scene, I know I will have readers who say "he/she died! they DIED! oh my god, how could you do that? why couldn't anyone save him/her?"

    Writing the explanation and describing how he survived is totally up to whether or not you want to. You are the author, it's your story and more to the point, it's fiction!!! You make it as believable or unbelievable as you want it to be.

    xx
     
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