P is for Purses, Satchels, and Bags

   Posted by: Faith   in Creating Coldcuts

A few years ago, I was reading an adventure/thriller book, and enjoying it immensely. Our Heroes were deep in the Amazon, had just retrieved the item they’d spent the entire book trying to locate & keep away from The Bad Guy, and were running for their lives, Important Item tucked safely inside a canvas bag. bridge

Our Heroes come to a bridge. Oh no! Bad Guy is on the other side. And his men are behind them (“headed off at the pass”, is a nice cliche for it…).

What to do? The item can’t fall into the hands of The Bad Guy, and surely he’ll kill them all, even if they try to make a deal.

In the midst of the action, Our Hero crosses the bridge, and as he fights off Goon #1, he tosses the bag further down the bridge (so it doesn’t impede his ability to fight)… and continues fighting and coming up with a plan.

Needless to say, the plan is a bit predictable: lure The Bad Guy onto the bridge, cut the ropes, find another way around. Day saved, yes?

The plan seems flawless. Our Heroes manage to execute the plan, with much drama and tension and near-death.

In the end, they manage to get safely to one side, while The Bad Guy plunges into the canyon below. Huffing and puffing, they congratulate each other on a successful adventure, sling the bag over a shoulder, and go on their way to complete the Expected Storyline Denouement.

But WAIT!!!

canvasbag What about the bag?!?

If the bag was on the middle of the bridge, and the heroes had to get back to the original side they started on—then lure The Bad Guy onto the bridge—and then cut the ropes, wouldn’t that mean the precious artifact would plunge into the gorge along with The Bad Guy?!

Yes. In fact, it does mean that.

At no point during the entire climactic scene did one of the heroes retrieve the bag before heading back to safety… y’know, the bag containing the very item they spent the entire book trying to find. The very item the book was titled for.

Moral of the story: If your character has a purse, a bag, a briefcase, a suitcase—any personal item that you’ve specified he/she carries regularly—you must know where this item is at all times.I'm not saying what book it was. But it MIGHT have had one of these involved. Perhaps. Heh.

Even running from the bad guys. Even during a car chase. Especially during one-on-one action scenes.

Otherwise, you’ll have the magic disappearing and reappearing bag, which—evidently—the editing team might not catch, resulting in a reader who’s disappointed and frustrated at the author’s carelessness… instead of turning that final page thinking “what a darn good adventure story!”


Do YOU know where your Hero/Heroine’s bag/purse/satchel is?

This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 19th, 2011 at 8:16 pm and is filed under Creating Coldcuts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

7 comments so far


Wow. What a startling discovery. And you told it with such fierce intrigue. I felt like I was reading the story right along with you. Well-done.

And I really like your blog interface. It’s unique. I’m following!

April 21st, 2011 at 8:29 pm

Whoops. LOL!

April 21st, 2011 at 9:48 pm

Now that is a continuity snafu!

April 22nd, 2011 at 12:52 pm

Mine usually have pouches or backpacks.

April 22nd, 2011 at 7:22 pm

Murg, things like that can be surprisingly distracting. I only had backpacks to keep track of, and they weren’t around too much, thankfully.

Good luck with the rest of the A to Z Challenge!

April 23rd, 2011 at 6:01 am

That’s a good point about continuity, and it doesn’t just have to be about bags.

In some of the stories I write, I actually have to draw flowcharts for who goes where in what car, to make sure that vehicles aren’t mysteriously appearing at point A or being left behind at point B just for the sake of the way I’m grouping my characters.

I’m starting up a ‘Critiquing Crusaders’ program, where participants in the Second Crusade can find other writers to exchange critiques with or form critiquing circles. If you’re interested, come by The Kelworth Files to check it out!

April 23rd, 2011 at 10:54 am

oy vey! How embarassing for the writer!

I expect lapses like that by, say, Michael Bay (in transformers they manage to drive from LA to the Hoover Dam in Las Vegas in under 5 minutes), but in the written word?

For shame! :)

April 30th, 2011 at 8:28 pm

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