The Easy Victory

At the end of Episode Three of the Phil Phorce story, I made a rather large mistake.  In the latter half of the episode, the group of main characters infiltrated a party to which they were not exactly invited in order to stop an abduction.  They succeeded– or so they thought.  In the next scene, they realized they had failed.

It didn’t work.  In theory, it should have.  In an outline, it would have looked perfect, even though I didn’t outline that episode.  It should have worked.  In fact, I just saw a television show episode in which the same thing happened, but it worked perfectly.  (That’s why I’m writing this.)  Everything seemed to succeed until the end, where a plot twist knocked everyone out of their seats, forcing them to wait for the next season of the show.

So why did theirs work and not mine?

Obviously, since it worked in my head before I wrote those scenes, it should have worked on paper.  It didn’t, which means something went wrong somewhere in the writing of the scenes.

So what happened?

The main feedback I got on that ending was that it was an anticlimax.  The story had been working toward this single end– stopping the abduction– but it wasn’t what the audience expected.  It was too easy.

Therein lies my difficulty, I suppose.  It was too easy.  I thought, in order to give the right contrast, I needed to show a clear victory just before an epic failure.  But a clear victory doesn’t mean an easy victory.  In fact, with the skepticism that comes from being fooled time and time again, readers won’t accept an easy victory as what it appears.  They know stuff.  They aren’t idiots, even if the writers seem like gods in comparison with the wimpy mortals who must experience our stories.  They might be powerless to change anything that happens, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t smart.

So, therefore, my problem lies in underestimating the audience.  I assumed everyone would stand up and cheer at an easy victory, but that isn’t the way to fool them.  That isn’t the way to make the right contrast.

If my problem was that the victory was too easy, then to make the right contrast I need to make the victory harder to come by.  With all the things I say about plot twists and foiling the protagonist’s plans again and again, I should know this.  The only way to make a victory seem authentic in fiction is to make it hard.  After all, your level of success is determined by the difficulty of the journey.  If Bill’s refrigerator is well-stocked, how tremendous is his victory when he finally slaps that piece of bread on the top of his sandwich?  How rewarding is that sandwich when he finally sinks his teeth into it?  It isn’t rewarding.  Perhaps if he had fought enemies aplenty and journeyed far and wide to find the Mayonnaise Spreader of the Apocalypse, he would enjoy that sandwich like he earned it.  If it’s easy to come by, it seems… easy.

If I wanted to do that contrast correctly, I should have done it like the TV show did it– lots of suspense, lots of self-sacrifice, lots of explosions.  I should have made it harder, and therefore made the victory credible for the audience.

Well, better luck next time, I guess.

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52 thoughts on “The Easy Victory

  1. And here’s Bill again on the quest for his sandwich.

    Yeah, it was too easy. It was almost a Deus ex machina. I think what might have worked is if Manfred wasn’t so easily believing of The Phil who was warning him (Isaac or Sebase, I can’t remember) and as he was insisting that there was no danger, there was a gunshot or something. Everyone freaks out, the Phils, after some tussle, give Manfred into the hands of someone they think is trustworthy (security or something) and then the next morning the headline appears.

      1. ““’The billionaire was reported missing after having left the twenty-sixth annual Fantasy Fiesta for an assassination,’” read Percival.” ~Phil Phorce: Gravel Factories?

        Sounds like Manfred is left so he could assinate someone himself.

      2. No. That would have messed with my humors in a bad way, and then I’d have to let you drill a hole in my skull. [Note to self: make Liam ingest thesaurus.]

      3. Not that creepy. This is slightly resembling of that night Steve was commenting in Quirk’s name.
        Then again, you probably know Quirk better than I do.

      4. I only think he has hair, I only think he knows what I’m thinking right now, and I only think he can mess with my memories– now, are you going to pay that debt or not?

      5. What debt? Why would I crazy enough to put myself in your debt, Liam?
        (I’m onto you, Tyberius Quirk)

      6. Wait a minute! A mob was trying to give me money? And you stopped them? Are you nuts?! If someone is giving you money, you don’t STOP them!

      7. You sound surprised that I’m making sense.
        I could torture Quirk for you.

      8. There is no gain without pain!
        …But I don’t want to hurt you so… *sigh*…I WANTED TO FIND MLP PICTURES and GIFS!!!

      9. I thought I was being pretty clear. I was going to torture Quirk. So, I was going to hunt down My Little Pony stuff to do so with.

  2. *Goes to reread the last bit of episode 3*

    I see what you mean. An easy victory cheapens the effect of an epic fail. The result is a “What? We…failed?” moment, instead of a “Nononononooooo this can’t be happening!!” moment, depending on the context of the story.

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