, , ,

Or perhaps not.

Today’s promised thunderstorms failed to materialize, leaving us with only high humidity, a falling barometer, and that waiting-for-the-shoe-to-drop feeling.

The resulting general disgruntlement reminded me of one of the classic errors of fiction writing, one almost guaranteed to induce a similar disgruntlement in the reader:  the failure to deliver on a promised thunderstorm.

This is how it goes (or doesn’t go.)  You have the reader, trustingly reading along.  You have your foreshadowings of trouble to come, draped all over the plot in a shadowy manner.  You have Chekov’s Gun, displayed in a place of honor above the mantelpiece.  You have your dramatic tension, wound up tight.  And then—

Nothing happens.  The foreshadowed conflicts fail to materialize – or worse, they are sidestepped or handwaved away.  Chekov’s Gun remains untouched by human (or inhuman) hands, and its presence in the story turns out to be merely ornamental after all.  And all that carefully-built dramatic tension fizzles out like a damp firecracker.

At that point, you’re left with a severely disgruntled reader, one who was promised thunderstorms and didn’t get them.