Wednesday, August 01, 2007

What Ever Happened to Common Sense

I've decided if I could figure out a way to produce common sense in a liquid form and distribute it on the open market, I would probably be an overnight billionaire. We often hear the expression that "truth is stranger than fiction" and Lord, I know that's true. In some of my earlier works I "borrowed" some instances from real life and people who read the work would say "no one's going to believe that." Well, probably not. Heck, I wouldn't have believed some of those things if I hadn't been there when they happened. And knowing the people involved always gives it some credibility too.

But odd situations aside, one of the things a lot of writers struggle with is character motivation. They need characters to do certain things because that's what moves their story forward. Unfortunately, they sometimes have their characters doing things that aren't "in character" at all. Or ever worse, exercising no common sense. Now, in real life that's becoming the norm. Most people just don't seem to think beyond their nose. Let me give you an example:

On Monday night it was raining so I didn't want to go out and get food. I ordered a pizza from room service. The pizza was so bad that I took two bites, threw it away and ate microwave popcorn for dinner instead. So last night I was still wanting decent pizza and spotted a Domino's on the way back to my hotel after class. So I order a pizza from Domino's and have it delivered to the hotel. About thirty minutes after ordering, the front desk calls and says my pizza is there. So I tell them to send him up and they say they can't for "security reasons." Now, mind you, every single day since Sunday, I have strolled in and out of this hotel, past the front desk, without anyone so much as looking at me - much less speaking or checking my id. But when someone who clearly has a defined business in the hotel - wearing a pizza uniform - carrying a pizza - wants to use the elevators, this is apparently a security risk???????

Who the hell are you fooling??????

So any bad guy dressed in a non-food delivery uniform can get right by the front desk with no problem but people carrying food are apparently risky. I simply don't know where to go with that.

So I tell the front desk "you're kidding me - I'm in my pajamas." But they won't budge. So I say to hell with them, slip on flipflops and go downstairs in short shorts and a tank top with no bra. You get what you get, I figure. I apologize to the pizza guy for having to wait. He apologizes for not being able to bring it to the room as he had intended (all this just inches from the front desk) and I say "It's not your fault. The service in this hotel is some of the worst and the most ignorant I have ever come across. And I travel every week." He just laughs, the front desk clerks (all three of them) glare, and he walks nervously out of the hotel.

See, that's stupid character motivation. If you had a front desk person as a main character who was doling out those rules without at least acknowledging that management made them do it and it was stupid, well, your character would look really dumb.

Everyone always says that you have to "suspend disbelief" to read fiction, and that statement is sometimes true, but more often I find you have to "smarten up" real life in order to write fiction.


Tori Lennox said...

Ye gods. The mind boggles.

I think I'd have been sorely tempted to go downstairs in my pajamas, though. *g*

Anissa said...

"more often I find you have to "smarten up" real life in order to write fiction" This cracks me up!

I couldn't agree more. People can be unbelievable. Glad you finally got your pizza. :)

Jana DeLeon said...

tori - that WAS my pajamas. :)

Thanks, anissa! I'm glad I got my pizza too. And people are definitely a trip.

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