I have always strived to come up with the best plot I can. I don’t like tricks or as Annie Wilkes would say, “Cheats.” I realize all writers have to use little tricks to make the story go where they want it to go, but the trick has to be believable or it loses me. I say this because I had trouble with my second novel, Graves of His Personal Liking. I needed to get certain characters together, but I needed to do it in a way that Annie Wilkes would not yell at me, “That’s a cheat.” I think I did the best I could. The few people who have read it did not seem to notice the trick, and I guess that is what writing is all about: making the tricks seamless. Keeping that in mind, I would like to go through a few of the little tricks and plot flaws that have always stood out in books and movies. I am sure I am not the first to notice these, but here we go.
(Spoiler warning: All of these books and movies have been around awhile, but if you haven’t seen or read them, the plots will be given away. Who am I kidding? If you haven’t read or seen them by now, you never will.)
The Firm by John Grisham
Mitch McDeere has just graduated from law school and has taken a job with a law firm that is paying him a huge salary. One day an FBI agent visits Mitch and tells him that the firm he is working for represents the mafia. The firm finds out and decides to whack Mich. Why? Mitch doesn’t know anything. He didn’t even know he was working for the mafia until the FBI told him. Why not just fire him like they fired all the other new associates? Because Mr. Grisham wants to have Mitch running from the hit men for half the book. The book did very well and made a truck load of money, but that little flaw always stood out for me.

The Pelican Brief by John Grisham (No, this is not pick on John Grisham Day.)

Darby Shaw is a law student who writes a brief speculating that the evil doings that have been going on are the result of an oil tycoon’s greed and not just politics. She gives the brief to her professor/lover who gives it to higher-ups. The rest of the novel is a hit man chasing Darby around trying to whack her. Why? She has already passed the brief along. She has no power or authority to do anything. Again, Mr. Grisham uses it as a tool to build tension and suspense. I liked the book, but the trick always bothered me.

Signs—a movie by M. Night Shyamalan

Graham Hess has aliens making crop circles in his fields. The aliens are here to take over the earth. In the end they discover that water kills the aliens. Okay, let me get this straight. Aliens want to take over a planet, and they die from exposure to water, so they go to a planet that is three-fourths water, and where it rains on a regular basis (except this summer in the mid-west.) No one ever said being an alien made you smart. There are many sub-plots in the movie that I liked, but that trick seemed a little silly.

Somewhere in Time—the movie

The watch. The watch. The watch. Where did it come from? (I know for sure I’m not the first one to bring this up, but since it wasn’t in Richard Matheson’s book, that’s all I’m going to say about it.)

Anyway, there are a few of the ones that bother me the most. There are more. If you have any favorites, I’d like to hear about them                                               


About thewritingdeputy

Joel Jurrens was a deputy sheriff for 26 years until he retired in 2013. He has published three novels: In The Sticks, Graves of His Personal Liking and County Ops: The Vengeance of Gable Fitzgerald. He tries to keep his blog light and humorous and sometimes downright silly.
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