I want to take a moment to talk about an overused plot device. I’ve seen it so many times, I roll my eyes at it now.
This plot device is where we are introduce to the main character and another character, be it a brother, a sister, a friend, a lover – a character that is introduced in the first chapter and then taken away only to become the main character’s reason for starting the plot rolling.
I am sick of this plot device.
Mainly because I’m sick of being introduced to a character without being given enough time to become attached to that character and then having the main character so fixated on that character – it separates me from the main character because I don’t have an emotional connection to her/his plight.
It reminds me of Primrose from the Hunger Games. I didn’t really like her, but I understand Katniss’s desire to keep her safe, so she volunteers to keep her sister safe.
That one didn’t bother me so much, because after volunteering, Katniss has other things to worry about.
The one that sparked this post comes from An Ember in the Ashes. Yeah, some of you may have read this book and thought, “OMG BEST BOOK EVER!” I’m not one of those people. I didn’t like the book; I found it extremely typical and unoriginal.
But, the man character, Laia, and her brother, Darin, are introduced in the first chapter. Then Darin is taken away and her grandparents are killed, leaving Laia alone in the world. And then Laia starts “her plot” by doing whatever it takes to get her brother back, fixating on him and what he would say, and putting herself through slavery just to have a chance of finding him.
Here’s by beef with this – I, the reader, don’t give a rat’s a** about Darin. I was not given sufficient time to like him. If An Ember in the Ashes would have started slower, with more time to introduce the characters and the setting and the world, I think I would have felt differently. But no. Instead we get the speed runner’s version, “Hi, I’m Laia, I’m useless. This is my brother Darin. Oh, no, my brother’s been kidnapped! I must save him!”