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Exercise #958

Exercise #958: Craft
Posted  9/2/22

This one might be on a tangent with Craft but it's been bugging me and I think this is a good place for it. Sorry for the length ... feel free to skip down to the end for the actual exercise. Also, possible spoilers on the new Top Gun movie.

The writing craft is everywhere and while printed books are no longer the go-to for looking something up or even light entertainment, the forms which have replaced it still need good writing. That last thing you looked up on the Internet "told" you something, even if it was a video. (If it was a good video, I bet they had a script of some sort.) Video games have storylines (even if they're totally stupid ones) and often words within them, sometimes instructions and sometimes the equivalent of "BIFF" and "POW" that used to flash across the screen during the old, old, old Batman cartoons.

When I'm taking in something that isn't directly the written word, my enjoyment or usage (do I believe that how-to guy?) relies heavily on how well "written" it is. I'm wondering if that's an author thing - those of us who practice the craft are the only ones who truly notice when something isn't quite up to par.

My husband is raving about the new Top Gun movie, Maverick. We watched the old Top Gun movie a few weeks ago, in order to remember the storyline and get back into the "groove" with the characters. I like that movie. A lot.

Then he saw Maverick in a theatre and we watched it together on Amazon Prime. (Apparently we've "purchased" that but not sure how that works exactly.) While I did find it enjoyable and it was good to "see" the characters again after so long ... it didn't really grip me. I finally think I figured out why.

The "writing" isn't as good. Oh, yes, it has a good storyline and the characters are still characterized in such a way that we recognize them, but early on there was - to me - a glaring flaw ... Maverick reported to base on his motorcycle (his usual mode of travel) in southern California without wearing a helmet.

It's a law, people. Maybe he doesn't agree with it and maybe he doesn't wear it when he's just popping over to the corner store, but this was long distance travel on California freeways. At the speed he seemed to be going, surely a cop somewhere would have given him a ticket or two.

Okay, so he's a rebel. I get it. (And the producers want to make sure we can see Tom Cruise's face, right?) It's just a bit of characterization allowed for artistic license. Then later on he has a helmet. What? Where did the rebel go?

Then later on he has a woman with him on his motorcycle - again on California roads - and neither of them has a helmet. I've known a few no-helmet-for-me rebels. Each of them insisted I wear a helmet. The pavement is unforgiving and everyone who rides drops a bike sometime. We know he cares for this woman and we know he actually HAS a helmet.

All this said, what ruined the credibility of the film for me was the inconsistency in flaunting the law. It jarred me out of the movie, thrust me back into my living room in the heat of a summer California night and made the logical part of my brain wonder "What else did they get wrong?"

Okay, done with the soapbox.

For today's exercise, write a scene which includes an incongruity that clearly doesn't fit into your scene. Try to throw your reader out of the world you've created.

Critiquers, along with the usual grammar, spelling, etc, review, consider these questions:
     * Could you relate to this piece? Why or why not?
     * Was this piece helpful to you as a writer? Why or why not?

Word limit: 1200
Please use the subject line
       SUB: Exercise #958/yourname

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