Monday, June 17, 2013

The Danger of Too Rich and Too Smart

“Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me.”--F. Scott Fitzgerald 

“Stupid is as stupid does.” --Forest Gump 

I have a weakness for British science fiction TV shows.  Everything from DOCTOR WHO to PRIMEVAL.  When I saw that Canadian TV had produced a sequel series called PRIMEVAL: NEW WORLD and that the SyFy Channel was showing it, I decided to give it a try.  

The premise is that temporary rips in time called anomalies allow dinosaurs and other creatures from the past and the future to come through and wreak havoc in our present.  These anomalies are only known about by a very few although raptors and an occasional T. Rex running amok in cities should give considerably more than a few a clue that this is happening.  

In the Canadian version of the show, a wealthy brainiac played by Niall Matter (hunky Zane from EUREKA) is the only person to realize this after a T. Rex chowed down on his wife.  Instead of alerting the media and the military, he goes on a one-man campaign to figure out what is going on and protect people from the predators.

To keep from causing a butterfly effect by killing these creatures, he tries to lure them back into the anomaly before it closes up.  

He is worth a serious chunk of change, but he has only a few paid people on his team and that’s it.  They have few weapons, and none are powerful enough to dent a dinosaur, let alone kill it.    

In Saturday's episode, the CEO of his company is telling another character how brilliant he is and how he’s such a strategist that he’s always ten steps ahead of everyone else.

Meanwhile, for no logical reason, the hero walks alone into a sewer where A GIANT SNAKE is lurking.  For protection, he has a small-caliber revolver and a flashlight.  He knows the monster snake is in there and the sewer is part of a closed system with just a few exits, yet he walks into its lair.  

When he pulled out the pistol which wouldn’t stop a pig, I said something extremely rude and started laughing.  The comment was directed at the writers, not the poor character, who survived this stupidity because he’s the hero.  

Unfortunately, I see the same kinds of errors about characters with brains, money, or both in much of my reading.

When you write a rich character, you have to consider what having money really means.  Someone rich can hire bodyguard, private detectives, and a small militia if needed. He can buy real weapons, not a small pistol.  He can have the ear of almost any politician or the military.  

Someone really bright and a talented strategist would post heavily armed people at every exit of that sewer system or block all the other exits so the snake would be forced to go out the exit near the anomaly.  

A writer should give the hero a reason like having his love interest or a small child trapped in the sewer for doing something so foolhardy.  

Giving a character money and brains requires that you really think about what he can do with that money and those smarts in a bad situation, or you’re the one who isn’t that bright to readers who won’t give you any money for that next piece of fiction you write.  

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