The other day, I was bored out of my mind with cable. One more reality show, with people I'd never want to meet in real life, and I'll hurl. I was channel surfing and came upon LMN (Lifetime Movie Network). In the few seconds I gave it prior to moving on, I noticed that the movie being shown was about domestic abuse. Ah, a story with teeth (or so I thought).
The premise is simple: a woman learns her ex is abusing their children. He has custody. He's wealthy. He has all the power. She decides to spirit the children away and start a new life with the help of an 'underground railroad' type thing for distraught mothers. So far, so good.
Then I started watching it, and I realized almost immediately that this was a plot-driven story. The characters' predicament and common sense had absolutely nothing to do with it.
First, the children (a boy about 11 and a girl about 9) know their father has a short fuse. While he's on the phone with someone, the girl is bouncing a large ball on the very expensive, glass-topped cocktail table. The boy is sweating bullets, begging her not to do this. He knows (and she should know) what will happen. Does she listen to reason? No. She sticks her tongue out at him and proceeds to break a very expensive lamp with the ball.
All hell breaks loose. Smoke is practically coming out of the father's ears. The boy takes the blame and the father ominously tells him to come upstairs (either for a beating or for a beating and sexual molestation - it wasn't clear).
In any event, the mother shows up - she and the father fight - she spirits her children away. Is the little girl sorry? Does she worry about the pain she caused her brother? Nope. She continues to be the ultimate brat and the most clueless kid on Planet Earth.
Now, mind you, the father is mega wealthy, he's alerted the cops, everyone knows the mother and kids are on the run. So, what does the mother do? She takes them to a bank to cash a check (using her real identity). During this, the little girl starts a fight with the brother, they create such a ruckus EVERYONE notices them. The mother calls them by their real names and tells them to quiet down. She is not at all concerned that someone will recognize them later (the people in the bank do, because of the ruckus the little girl created, and promptly report the sighting to the cops).
The mother finally hooks up with the 'underground railroad' people at a house in a remote area. The guy who is going to take her to Canada explains they have to keep a low profile. So what does he drive? A bright red car circa 1950s-1960s that stands out like the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile as they're all trying to get away with the cops in hot pursuit.
When they reach a safe location, the children are told NOT to go outside (should someone see them and report it to the cops). So what does the little girl do? Yep, she goes outside to pet a bunny, sees a guy across the field, stands there and waves at him. Naturally, the cops show up about three seconds later. During a shootout (yep, there is a shootout), the guy/woman/kids escape in his bright red vintage car. No one notices.
I could go on, but it just continues in the same vein. And, to me, is the perfect example of a plot-driven story. Everything that happens is simply there to advance the plot. It doesn't make any sense. No one who is trying to keep a low profile would behave like this. And that little girl? OMG. Someone needed to have a serious talk with her. Not that anyone ever did, because the writer needed her dumb behavior to advance the plot.
This had to be the worst move I've ever seen. And it convinced me that character-driven stories beat plot-driven stories every single time.
My latest releases
“Heat with Heart”
ILLICIT INTENT (5 FLAMES - MY READING OBSESSION)
ILLICIT DESIRE (4 STARS - ROMANTIC TIMES)
SENSUAL STRANGER (BOOK OF THE YEAR 2010)
DEEP, DARK, DELICIOUS (HOLT MEDALLION AWARD OF MERIT)
Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/author/tinadonahue