Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Thinking outside the plot!

This is a new blog feature of mine and will be a regular.  Thinking outside the plot are bite-sized commentary on plot lines and character types, to get us all thinking. As regulars know, I'm a reading-junkie so most of my thoughts are generated from my current reads. Thinking outside the plot is also driven by my nocturnal mind churning, where I do most of my thinking for my writing (it's one of the few times I get any peace).

Drum roll please....

Thinking outside the plot


Dancing, in modern chic literature, doesn't work. Save it for music videos. Put it in chick lit and the end product is usually cringe-worthy Dad Dancing. I'm not talking about sumptuous period debutante balls, positively dripping in glamour and romance. I'm referring to the chick lit staple - there's usually a dance scene somewhere.
Think cringe-worthy alcohol session. She/he's been dumped, there's been an affair, a change of image. Cue: dance floor.

It's my view that it's impossible to do a good dance scene in a chick lit novel. It's impossible to have the character appear young, funky and fresh, which I suspect is the aim. 

Lloyd (thinking of you, Adele Parks, p123) is the best supporting example I've come across most recently. He is described as a "surprisingly good dancer", despite being a thirty-something civil servant. My mental image of Dad Dancing, which is possible at any age by the way, was further enhanced when it goes on to explain that "Lloyd didn't actually recognise any of the tunes that were playing. He might have been 'with it' once, but he'd stayed the same and 'it' had moved on...Lloyd was a fast learner. He closely watched the younger dancers and mimicked their moves in a convincing manner". This dancing scene only propelled him, in my imagination, into one of those sad middle aged businessmen in suits that hang around outside Girls Aloud's dressing rooms (which has been a complaint of theirs in interviews!).

So, axe the dancing scenes. If you refer to a character as a good dancer, no one will take your word for it, it needs proof. Provide the proof and you risk boring the reader with blow by blow moves, or looking like a Dad dancer, as above.

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