Skating Past the Consequential

If you haven’t seen Thor: Ragnarok there are some minor SPOILERS and also a couple of SPOILERS about The Dark World in this post so read no further if you are dismayed by spoilers.

Recently I had a similar reaction in two very different mediums within a few days of each other. The first was when I went to see Thor: Ragnarok. (I love the Thor movies and I don’t think it’s entirely due to Tom Hiddleston as Loki.)

For those of you who share my passion for all things Asgardian it was made clear in the first two movies that Thor’s relationship with Jane Forster the brilliant astrophysicist is profoundly important. In fact Thor gives up the throne in The Dark World for love of Jane.

So now we get to Ragnarok — which I enjoyed vey much — apart from this one exchange that threw me right out of the movie for several minutes. It’s during an exchange on the sidewalk between Thor and Loki as they are regarding a demolished building. Thor states that he and Jane broke up and implies that it was totally his choice to dump her. Two lines. A throw away.

No, you don’t get to do that. For those fans who have been following the series this deserves more then a casual remark that is treated as comedic moment. The ending of this relationship should be worth more than that. Either don’t bring it up at all or deal with it in a thoughtful way.

The other experience was reading a novel whose story is set in a gaming universe I particularly enjoy. A potentially explosive moment between the young king fighting to free his country and his best friend and general was detailed in past tense and in an omniscient view point.

Again, no. Just no. You dramatize moments like this. The old saw of show don’t tell completely applies in this case. When your best friend casually suggests that it would be best if you murdered everyone in a town you’ve just liberated so no one can convey this news of your victory to the enemy — and mind you these are your own subjects — this should not be a throw away line that the suggestion was quickly rejected.

Show me that confrontation. Show me how this revelation of a dark nature in his friend affects the young king. Something this important should have repercussions through the rest of the novel. Even if those repercussions are subtle.

There are times (in the immortal words of Walter Jon Williams http://www.walterjonwilliams.net/) when a simple declarative sentence is your friend. But not at consequential moments. If it’s going to matter to your reader or viewer you as the writer better show as much concern as them.

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