The Use of Rational Argument In Life and In Writing

      Hubs and I bought a van yesterday. A silver Dodge Grand Caravan to be exact. It was the one I wanted, and while he was interested in looking around more, I HAD TO HAVE IT! There were a few reasons why…

1) It had it’s own back seat heat/air controls.

2) It was a good price for the mileage

3) It has a DVD player!

4) Four door entry. (my last van didn’t have that)

5) I love the style. It is a beautiful vehicle.

Hubs gets home about the time I get back from picking up the van (I had stopped by a friend’s house to chat a while) and we go through and check out all the greatness that is our new used vehicle…

The eject button of the DVD player is stuck. It’s pushed in, so all that you see on the start up screen is EJECT… or LOADING for 5 seconds before it goes back to EJECT. We try wiggling it out of its stuck position for an hour to no avail. GRRR.

The main selling point on this van had been the DVD player. If you noticed, number three up there in that list had an exclamation point. No other did. I have two young children and do not enjoy listening to screaming and fighting on long trips. This DVD player was to be a life saver.

We even lost our How To Train Your Dragon DVD in the thing before we realized the damned eject button was broken… So broken in fact, it didn’t eject the movie… It’s still stuck in there at this moment.

I call the guy we bought the car from. He tells me to bring it in the next day so someone can have a look at it. Okay. Awesome. We can get this taken care of.

Cut to this morning. The guy calls back. His boss said that since it’s an after manufacture installation, they can’t work on it….

This is the point when my blood starts boiling. We had gotten them down from the sticker price to something we thought was decent, especially with the DVD player. We accepted the final offer… And now, that final offer is turning out to be way too damned much for a freaking van with a DVD player that doesn’t work.

I get the bosses number. I call, but he’s not in the office yet.

(THIS is where the reasonable argument in life part comes in.)

Instead of yelling and screaming and carrying on like I wanted to, I calmly talked to the secretary that had answered and explained the situation to her. And instead of demanding something be done about it, I asked what could be done about it.

I awaited the call back. When it came, it was the guy I usually talk to… The sales manager. It turns out that my reasonable argument worked. I take the van in on Friday and they figure out what can be done about it.

What does this have to do with writing?

Your reader expects a rational outcome to your story. Think of your writing as an argument with the reader. You’re trying to explain your side of the argument to get your reader to side with you. You introduce an irrational point in your argument, you lose your reader.

Take deus ex machina. It is irrational. There is no reason for it. Where did this amazing thing that suddenly made everything far in your story okay come from? It pulls the reader out of your story and makes your thus far rational argument irrevocably irrational. There is no coming back from that. Your reader no longer agrees with you and probably puts your book/story down and walks away.

So, in your writing, as in life, you should use rational arguments. Taking on the roll of “that crazy lying bitch/bastard” is not what you want. And deus ex machina will do that to you every time. Be rational and you may just get what you want.

What about you? What is your opinion on deus ex machina?

About Katie Doyle

Katie Doyle is an avid reader, writer of NA and Adult fiction, a mom to two tornadoes that resemble an eight and six year old, and pet to a tuxedo cat named Oz and a German Shepherd/Boxer rescue named Charlie. If she's not reading, writing, or getting Oz out of a tree, she's screaming at characters on TV and trying not to curse around her kids.
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2 Responses to The Use of Rational Argument In Life and In Writing

  1. Rowenna says:

    Great life lesson…and writing lesson! I, too, hate when the story is resolved in some illogical, puppet-master way. I feel cheated as a reader.

  2. I hope not to let my readers down when it comes to resolution. This is a good reminder to think about the situations we place our characters in.

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