It’s funny how I’ve become so used to scrutinizing novels that story dissection has translated into TV shows, movies, and now even animated films. Over the weekend, my family watched CORALINE. While the plot and characters were a little strange, I have to applaud the writer for thinking out of the box. Unfortunately, I can’t give the writer too much credit because I was disappointed in the black moment of the story.
SPOILER ALERT. Coraline needed to find three sets of eyes in order to save the souls of the lost children. She found all three, but was unable to get the last pair from the evil rats. She succumbed to the fact that she’d failed, then the cat came along with the rat and the set of eyes. I almost screamed. If this was a printed story from a beginning author, the editor would’ve had a fit. This is a BIG NO-NO in the writing world. It’s called coincidence, convenience, and contrived issues. The three Cs.
The reason this is a problem is because the protagonist is weak. In this case, Coraline wasn’t able to succeed without the convenient help of the cat. I was rooting for her, even when she thought she’d lost. All the writer had to do was have her realize she was stronger than that, or have her think up a new, better plan—anything to give her the chance to beat the villain. Having the cat conveniently come by with the “treasure” killed the whole story for me. Coraline didn’t deserve the victory she had because she didn’t earn it.
Now, don’t get this confused with a hero and heroine who work together throughout the story to eventually conquer the beast or kill the villain. The story about Coraline is different because she was clearly the protagonist. While the cat did make appearances and offered explanations, he was never more than a side-kick.
Why did I rant about this today? Well, I felt I needed to share this so you could ensure you weren’t making the same mistake with your novel.
Have you read or watched a story that disappointed you in the same manner?