Monday, July 11, 2011

How Did I Get Here?

Seems like it doesn't matter how many people are ahead of me, if I have several books on hold at the library they all become available at the same time. So I've been reading a lot more than usual lately and something has happened in a couple of books that made me step back and wonder if this was something that actually happened to real people.

The basic idea of this "event" is that the main character is so distraught/hurt/grief-stricken/angry/whatever that she goes wandering around the city (guided by her subconscious, of course) and ends up at some random place (usually a good distance from where she started) that is exactly where she needs to be. And then she says or thinks something along the lines of, "How did I wind up here? Oh, yeah. It must be because [insert some story-related reason]." Or worse, she just happens to be wherever she needs to be to witness something important, but that's another issue entirely.

Now, I'm not saying I've never been driving somewhere and unintentionally taken the wrong road out of habit because I wasn't paying attention--like starting to drive to work because I do it every day--but I don't think I've ever gone anywhere unintentionally because my subconscious knew that was where I needed be. Maybe it's just that I'm a very deliberate person (and a control freak) and I tend to think three or four steps ahead so a situation like this would never happen to me? Maybe I'm not that different from anyone else and this kind of situation wouldn't happen in real life?

What do you all think? Has something like this actually happened to anyone? Or do you think this is just another overused literary device to get a character from point A to point B? Do things like this yank you out of the story?


  1. Hmmm. I think it's a plot device. I doubt it happens very often to people in real life.

    But, I think it could be a fine plot device if it's done well. For me, it all depends on the writing and the whether or not the author has convinced me to suspend my disbelief.

  2. For me, it totally depends on how it is written. Anything can be made believable. So if it yanks you out of the story then it probably was a device.

  3. I've known people who'd had situations of being in the right place at the right time. Usually to render aid in a difficult situation. Of course it's a plot device, but then the bad things that happen to our characters are plot devices. None of that stuff happens to me either.

    Thank Heavens!


  4. There are times when I was driving and went into auto-mode, accidentally taking a route that I'm used to. So often authors have MCs go to their "love interest"s house. If I had ever driven past a crushes house I would have been all too aware of it. The only way this would be remotely realistic is if it's someone the MC has recently been in a relationship with and she was constantly driving to his house at all hours of the day. (That actually has happened to me. Shortly after breaking up I brainlessly drove past his house then thought, oh wait, we're not hanging out anymore)

  5. I have accidentally started in one direction before I realized, oh, I don't live there anymore. (Like just after a move from one end of town to another) And maybe I'm just not the wandering aimlessly type. Maybe because you could get assaulted if you wander aimlessly in this city. ;) <(not kidding, just trying to lighten mood)

    Maybe part of the reason it's yanking you out of the story is because you're seeing it too much, so it feels more like a cliche. If it feels like a means to an end, then I think the author could have worked a little harder to get the stars to align, so to speak.

    But if the writing is good enough to convince me (vague, I know), I'll probably buy it.