A Bell Jar, a Mason Jar, and a Story Jar

I’m not going insane.

At least I don’t think I am.

No, this post is about things that some, or all of us find jarring.

I know that I only speak for myself and there are a lot authors out there who may disagree, but once a reader is in the story it’s bad to jerk them out. In my humble opinion, anything that makes a reader look up from the page, an audience pause a show, or a listener’s ears tweak, is bad.

That is one of the things I ask Beta Readers to look for. Is there anything that pulls you out of the yarn?

In this vein, one of the greatest reviews I ever received about Genesis … Philip Munts said, “I read nearly the whole thing in one sitting.”

That tells me, it flows.

I’ve started thinking about this because I’ve been watching the new Willow series on Disney+. For the most part I think it’s the best of the epic fantasy series that are being created at the moment.

I may be biased as the original Willow was one of my favorite all-time movies.

However, I do think the writing flows and the action scenes don’t carry the OP superhero bashes that we are seeing in most places these days. The cinematography is stunning. The storyline is a generic quest trope, but I want nothing more in an epic fantasy. I don’t need them to reinvent that. The characters have been set up with plenty of room for growth and while I don’t like all of them at this point, I’m guessing they will evolve into something we can’t live without.

My complaints are minor. I’m not crazy about the feeling like they raided their teen movie roster for actors (the first episode has some serious teen romance vibes that left me rolling my eyes). The diversity of accents within families leaves me scratching my head (I guess Madmartigan didn’t have one …).

My major lament is simply the lack of James Horner.

Sadly, there’s not much any of us can do about that. I don’t feel like Rodzinski or Howard really carry on the musical power of the original.

I’m definitely not a fan of rock anthems in Willow’s world.

But then we hit the screech, the jarring, the rip me out of the world I have immersed myself in. Things had started clicking about halfway through the first episode and flowed nicely until the third episode Elora runs into some woodswomen.

Some might find the dialogue too much, but I get the tip o’ the cap to Shakespearian fool.

Others might wonder at two ladies living alone in the wilds. Personally, would wonder at anyone living out there by themselves, but maybe the lands beyond the Barrier aren’t as dangerous as we are initially believed. I mean, Bavmorda is dead and her army disbursed.

I might wonder at Hubert’s choice of chopping wood one handed with what looks like a double headed battle axe. I feel like there might be a little symbolism there, but won’t go into that. I’m just talking about the utilitarian poor choice in chopping wood with one hand. If you’ve ever chopped wood you’ll know it’s a great way to bleed a lot.

My true jarring moment is why do they look like they just walked out of Tractor Supply?

They are both wearing jeans. Anne is wearing what looks to be a khaki shirt with breast pockets. Top it off with boonie hats. The only things missing are hip-waders, a cooler full of Nattie-Ice, and a kid on a porch playing a banjo.

My brain is trying to make sense of how this fits.

There is a one-line mention of converging dimensions within the story, but they don’t do anything to build on that. There is nothing to explain how or why this fits into the actual story.

To be honest, I’m not sure why the scene is there in the first place. It doesn’t actually do anything to move the plot along. I guess it shows that average folk are willing to die for Elora, but it could have been done in a way that didn’t leave the viewers scratching their heads and trying to figure out how things fit together.

Maybe I’m being nitpicky, but when everything else flowed so well, it was like a slap in the face being ripped out of the story.

Unfortunately, stuff like this happens. Thesaurus words in Stephen King’s writings. Words that disrupt the flow of lyrics. I read a book where the author didn’t know the difference between VILE and VIAL. That lead to some interesting scenes.

What are some instances that have jarred you out of a story?

While you think on that, I’m going to sit here, enjoying this snowday and trying to get some writing done. Don’t forget Christmas is coming up and Atom & Go makes a great stocking stuffer for readers everywhere. As of today you can still have it delivered before Christmas.

Hope all of you are staying safe and warm. Remember to keep on reading, keep making hot cocoa, and keep on flying the Black.

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