Tweet of the Day- Pen and Paper: Better than All Things Digital
“Think of it this way: if Russo was managing the local Pizza Hut, you’d order a pizza and they’d deliver a newspaper. Sure, it was a surprise, but it didn’t make much sense, nor did you want to order from them again. But it sure fooled you, didn’t it?”— R.D. Reynolds on Vince Russo’s writing style, from the book Wrestle CrapDepending on the viewer, many twists, including several Cylon identity revelations in the later episodes of the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica series may fall under this trope. Naturally, one viewer’s Shocking Swerve may be another one’s Wham Episode.From Robot ChickenSeth Green: “Wow! Ron Moore! Creator of Battlestar Galactica. How about letting us come aboard and help you with your whip-smart plots?”Ron Moore: “Help? Why would I need help writing plots? I just throw a dart at the cast list and *boom*: they’re a Cylon. Rinse, repeat, cash the frakking check. Watch…(Moore throws several darts at a board with cast member photos taped to it)…(mocking) oh, please help me, this is so hard!”
Or the reason BSG was not the best show on television.
A clear sign of lazy writing.
A Hail Mary pass when you’re alone on the field.
First cousin to the little demon inside the machine.
God I hate these!
As you can guess both by the links (I’ll wait until you come back, okay?) and the quote above, a shocking swerve happens when a writer tries to surprise the audience just for the sake of shocking them (like a teenager momentarily swerving in an empty high way to scare their friends). And it is just that stupid.
Some are rather harmless. A twist involving a minor character or even that while interesting will not go beyond the confines of a subset of the audience (those that crowd fan based forums for example). But when you based an entire book, series or movie on it, you better pack it in or go the Michael Bay route and stuff the project with a lot of explosions, just in case.
It is made worse because in order to maintain the shock value, the writers absolutely refuse to reward smart members who figure out the obvious points in the plot. Instead they reach down (and in) their posteriors and pull things that are illogical, contradictory and (again) plain stupid.
The reason for this is simple. The most basic hook in any story boils down to “what happens next?” So these writers believe that if you keep the audience guessing about everything then they will keep watching. Alas, the other side of the coin is that the audience expects answers.
Within the context of the story. They don’t mind that the heroes saved the day by using magic, if a) that is part of the narrative , b) it was properly foreshadowed. But pulling a deux machina for the sake of surprising the audience is no way to go. In fact, the creators of these types of shows (the crew behind Lost, Ron Moore and yes you Grant “Ego” Morrison) go on to say that no they never had the answers to begin with because they never had them to begin with.
So you violate a basic promise (and premise) made to the audience, that their questions will be answered and instead string them along from one “surprise” moment to the next.
Just don’t do it.
If you have any pride in your work, or for that matter a shred of integrity, just don’t do it.
If you do, I reserve the right to punch you in the face, in public.
My lawyers can settle with your lawyers later.