Convenient intuition

Here’s a post at Pub Rants: Instinct, intuition, and insight in fiction.

I wanted to chat this month about something that happens quite frequently in fiction (both published and unpublished), something I’ve dubbed “miraculous knowing.” This is when answers or solutions conveniently occur to a character at key plot moments. It tends to manifest thusly:

• They didn’t know how they knew. They just knew.
• She felt it in her bones. This was the place.
• He sensed it deep with his soul, so deep that he was certain beyond a shadow of a doubt that he knew exactly what had happened to the woman.
• I had a bad feeling. I knew I was being watched.

This is a really good post! I keep wanting to quote the whole thing. Here:

Humans are intuitive, instinctive, insightful beings. We’re animals. Our survival drive makes us reactive to vibes others are giving off, to that cold prickle at the backs of our necks, to hunches that danger lurks nearby. … it stands to reason that characters in fiction would also experience these types of intuitive moments, right?

Sure. However, in fiction, it’s not quite that simple. The human brain demands a different sort of logic from a story … than it does from reality. When a character “senses” or “just knows” more than one crucial piece of information (maaaaaby two) over the course of a novel, that often signals one of three things: incomplete character development, limp plotting, or false tension.

The post then expands on “incomplete character development, limp plotting, and false tension.”

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1 thought on “Convenient intuition”

  1. I remember in Tangled how all three of the characters leap to a conclusion at different times. Moved the story along briskly. 0:)

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