1/23/2012

A Current Pet Peeve

This actually has been a pet peeve for quite a while (and really, since pet peeves are the only pets that apparently the ones I love aren't allergic to, I'm going to be cultivating as many of them as I can.) However, now it seems like everyone from TV writers to book writers any many people who just happen to be able to type on a keyboard have glommed onto. Making it a pet peeve that I get to spend a whole hoop of time with.

Chronology.

As in: Please have one.

The world does not operate in flashes - be they backward, forward, or sideways.

In TV land, the worst (though by no means only) offender of late is NCIS. I think it would be easier to count the episodes since September that started at the beginning and ended at the end as opposed to starting at the end, flashing "Two Days Earlier" or "24 Hours Ago" or some similar nonsense across the screen and pushing us back to tell the story of whatever amazing (ha!) cliffhanger they decided to start us with. I get it if you want to do that every now and then. It shakes things up. Maybe it's a really great cliffhanger. But when it's practically every episode it loses its effectiveness and just makes me want to watch five minutes, fast forward to the end to see the conclusion of the cliffhanger and be done.

Yesterday I finished a book that I'd been slogging through for nearly a week. It definitely falls into the category of "Sometimes there's a reason the Kindle books are free." This book jumped around in the timeline so much and so fast (and usually with so little indication) that it was difficult to tell who was who and what was what and when was when. It was confusing enough that, for the longest time (like 60% of the book), I was convinced that there was one character using two different names depending on his situation. Then it seemed like it might be clear that, no, they were two different people with similar intersecting life stories. Then it flitted back to them being just one person with two names again. And at the end, I think the author realized HE had no idea if it was one person or two and thus tried to make it into a mystery. The problem being that you would actually have to care about one (or both - heck, any) of the characters to really worry about solving said mystery. As it was, by the time I realized that no, the book was not going to get any better, I'd invested so much time in slogging that I felt I needed to just at least skim the rest of the thing so I could say I did.

But it kind of made my point. If you're so all over the place in your timeline that even you, the author, can't keep track, then maybe you should just stick with the ol' tried and true and start at the very beginning. It is, after all, the very best place to start.

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