Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Predictable Fiction

Quite some time ago, I wrote about reading some of the romance novels one lover had lying around. I criticized their predictability; that they always ended, without exception, in a monogamous marriage, no matter how unlikely a candidate for marriage the main male character seemed in the beginning.

Now, I'll elaborate a bit -- romance novels are most definitely not the only culprit here. In mystery/crime/thriller novels, you know from the very beginning that the good guys will always win in the end and that the main character will not die, no matter how dire their circumstances become during the course of the novel. This also holds true for movies in both genres.

You also know that if they do something really stupid while looking for clues to solve the mystery, they'll nearly always get caught and temporarily captured by the bad guys, though they'll be rescued in the end. And they WILL do something foolhardy, never choosing to take the safer paths. Said bad guys will usually take the time to gloat, to confess to the good guy what they've done bad so far and what mayhem they have planned for the good guy, in order to waste time so that the cavalry can come save the day just in the nick of time.

As romances are always told from the female point of view, mysteries/thrillers are always told from the good guys' point of view, in the same way that history is nearly always recounted by the winners.

Where's the "thrill" in thriller if you know how it's going to end before you even read the first page? Why must the good guys always win? Mystery/thriller fiction is supposed to be just that; fiction, a make-believe tale of "what if". There shouldn't always be a morality, "crime doesn't pay" lesson in fiction, as fiction is mainly about entertainment, not a prescription of what "should" be.

I'd like to see some fiction told from atypical points of view -- romance from a male perspective that doesn't always end in a monogamous marriage and mystery/thrillers told from the "bad guy's" point of view. Indeed, I'd like to see more novels where the dividing line between good guys and bad guys is blurred; where the characters on both sides of an issue are multifaceted and each have points of views and agendas that make sense to them.

What would you like to see different in the types of fiction you read that you currently see very little of? And if you know of any authors who write less predictable plots, feel free to list them in the comment box.

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