In between school, traveling for work and finishing the half-marathon I’ve been spending some time with my wife re-watching the Fox’s TV show, 24, starring the character of Jack Bauer, portrayed by Kiefer Sutherland. If you’ve never seen this show, it’s a non-stop roller coaster ride of espionage and chasing terrorists.
Within season five, there are several times that Bauer is on the trail of some digital evidence. Also during the season, and in previous seasons, the use of technology to hack into this firewall or that computer is leveraged extensively as a solution. My problem with season five there are the times the ‘good guys’ have the digital evidence, but at no point do they look for a way to find a coffee shop, requisition someone’s laptop and upload the evidence to Youtube or CNN. Instead they spend several episodes trying to deliver the evidence and losing the evidence, getting it back and losing again before they can get it to the authorities.
I get it, there are a certain amount of episodes the writers and producers are trying to fill with any particular storyline and they have to build suspense across those episodes. I also get that conflict is what drives stories and each episode needs to have its share of the good guys getting the upper hand and the bad guys getting the upper hand.
But as a viewer of the TV show, I’m frustrated that many times there is often a very simple and logical solution to a piece of conflict and the characters obviously never think of it. I’m of the opinion, we as writer’s need to explore as many solutions as possible and write the story in a way that the protagonist is steered away from the ‘easy solutions’ and left with only two choices: a painful choice and an equally painful choice; both which have high risk and may or may not thwart the opposition.
I guess what I’m saying is that we as writer’s have an obligation to not let the easy, simply solutions go unanswered. We need to account for the easy way out and remove it as a solution. We don’t need readers shouting at our story, “What are you doing? Just make the call and everything is solved! OMG! All they have to do is x, y, or z. Why are they being so stupid?!?”
Plot well. Keep on writing.