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Plot Issues: Laziness

So, I’m a really big fan of crime programs. Whether it’s real crime or fictional, it’s in every aspect of my life – books, TV, movies. Bones has been one of those shows that I enjoy, for the last few years. I never watched it, when it first started, because I was short on time, so I don’t know everything that’s ever happened on the show. However, I came in around 5 seasons or so ago, and I’ve been enjoying it ever since.

** HERE BY SPOILERS **

However – there is one really big problem I have with the recent Season 10 of the show. I always want my crime to be believable and I’m happy with repeat characters, such as The Gravedigger or characters like The Mentalist’s ‘Red John’. We get a lot of these in Bones, but the recent one is a little frustrating.

Here’s what happened, that led the laziest plot wrap I have ever seen on Bones.

When serial killer Pelant warns Bones that there are sets of bones in her storage room, that were victims of another serial killer. Of course, Bones is intrigued and wants to solve the case. Fair enough, so far.

For weeks – about 8 episodes – we’re taunted with this information and Bones tries to discover who the other serial killer might be. That’s totally fine, for me. I love intrigue and I love waiting for one storyline to end, before the show starts another one. That’s exactly how it should be done.

But here’s the kicker – when Pelant’s storyline is finished, it goes straight into working on the new serial killer. New bodies show up, and the team jump on the case. But the progression of the case is super fast.

There are around 12 episodes at the end of Season 9, that poke and prod into this new serial killer case. All is fine. Then we discover that the serial killer case is linked to a high up FBI agent, who wants to stop anyone from investigating.

Laziness #1 : the FBI ‘storms’ Booth and Brennan’s house, with automatic guns. They shoot up the entire property, trying to kill Booth, to stop him from investigating. Booth goes all macho and Bond on their ass, setting up explosive devises in the house and shooting back. Then, when it gets to the moment when you think Booth is going to get shot, Bones appears and shoots the attacker, saves the day and gets Booth to the hospital for two gunshot wounds. Now, maybe this would make sense in a movie, or a book, where there’s a lot of action like that. However, on Bones, this just doesn’t fly for me. It’s a lazy way to set him up.

Laziness #2 : When Booth is in hospital, he’s arrested, for ‘murdering’ FBI agents who, they claim, went to the house, to arrest him. It’s a blatant lie, but they’re the FBI and apparently that means they’re beyond questioning. They even threaten to arrest Brennan, when she refuses to allow it. As if she can actually shot them. And then the series ends.

Nothing new there, either, since all crime shows love to end on a cliffhanger.

Laziness #3 : When Season 10 starts, the entire FBI conspiracy, to cover up the serial killer case, takes TWO episodes. It explodes into episode 1, then is all solved and wrapped up by episode 2. But, here’s the really lazy part. They murder one of my favourite characters, Sweets, in an attempt to stop them from getting a piece of paper that could solve the case. Yet, in episode 2, that piece of paper turns out to be irrelevant anyway, because the evidence they need is right under their nose, in the J. Edgar Hoover exhibition at the Jeffersonian.

Laziness #4 : Not only is the whole thing wrapped up by the miraculous discovery of papers, found in their own building, that means the FBI can’t do anything to stop them from investigating and also solves their serial killer case, for them. But then, is that the whole thing is ignored and swept under the rug, as everyone attends Sweets funeral.

So, although the whole case took only around 12 episodes, for the serial killer case, and just 4 episodes to reveal and explore the FBI conspiracy, all the answers were in their own building, under their nose. The conspiracy that got a half dozen people killed and let a killer off the hook, that had Judges, Doctors and Lawyers blackmailed, in order to put Booth in prison for 3 months…is suddenly solved in 2 episodes.

The really big conspiracy didn’t even end in a lawsuit, a court case, an arrest, or even a conviction. All we saw was the discovery of a pile of papers that they told us, was going to stop all the chaos that had been going on, so far.

***

Now, maybe I expect too much from a crime show, but I think if you’re going to spend 16 episodes building up to a case like this, then you had better do it properly. Do not shove it under a rug, once you’ve wrung all the action from it that you can get.

I’ve actually read books like this. The build up is promising, and you get sucked into a crime that you’re trying to figure out, that you want to solve. You go all Miss Marple on that book’s butt and try to solve the case for yourself, by noticing all the clues you can find. But when cases are solved in this lazy, pathetic way, that has no real ending and no real solution, then that’s impossible.

No reader wants to read an entire novel, only to get to the end and be disappointed, because you can’t round off the crime. If you can’t provide a satisfying solution, then don’t write the story. It’s as simple as that.

I can’t tell you how many stories I have, sitting on the back burner, that have no ending. They may never get finished, but I’d rather leave them on the computer for years, unfinished and neglected, than rush an ending that doesn’t fit or make sense, or satisfy the reader as an ending to the plot, just to get them published.

I have 11 books in a crime series, with 10 books that are complete and 1 that is half finished. I even have images picked out as book covers. I have blurbs, poster pics, teaser, etc. I have everything I could ever need, to publish this series, except one thing…a plausible ending to the series. And since there is one crime that ties all the series together, the series is not complete without the final book. I’ve had the first 10 books finished for about 3 years now, but I haven’t finished the final book, so until that happens, the only place those finished stories are going is Wattpad. They’ll go there, to get a readers perspective on the overall story, and then, once the final book is done, I will happily show it to a publisher, to get it out there in the wider world.

But if I were to take the shortcut and be lazy about it, I could easily have this series published in a year. But I would be providing a sub-par piece of work and that would drive me crazy.

I wrote about stupidity, in another post and this ties in, perfectly, with laziness. When you’re lazy, things like making your characters seem stupid, not finishing your plot, not caring about details etc, end up happening more and more. Unfortunately, laziness and stupidity go hand in hand.

This is where editing becomes your best friend. Edit your story once and you’ll spot spelling mistakes and possible grammar issues. Edit it twice and you’ll find even more, particularly if you corrected previous mistakes and make even more. Making mistakes during editing is very common, especially when you accidentally press a key or when your super smart computer thinks you’re writing one thing, when you’re really writing something else. But if you edit your story a dozen times, especially when you haven’t read it for a while and don’t clearly remember all the details of the story, then you’re likely to notice when your story deviates from making sense. If there are plot gaps, moments of stupid dialogue/action or lazy events, then you will see them. But only if you work, work, work on that story, until it’s as clean and concise as possible.

And, clearly, that is something the writers of Bones are going to have to think about.

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