Writing Tip – My Beef with Plots

This isn’t just about novels.

I’ve just today finished playing Metal Gear Solid 4 on the Playstation 3. I’m a big fan of the Metal Gear series and, but the plot leaves much to be desired.

The Metal Gear series is very plot heavy and I’ve always said the first one was the best for it, because it was the simplest. I understood what was going on. But during the second and third games more aspects were brought into it, more characters, more twists and more complications and the fourth one tried to draw everything back together and conclude it.

It made my head spin and left me unsatisfied because it took away enjoyment from the gameplay.

Metal Gear is like the modern equivalent of Lord of the Rings. They could sum up the whole plot so much easier – but no – they jam it full of exposition and redundant dialogue which confuses the player. I must have played MGS2 a hundred times when I was a teenager and never fully understood the finer details.

You should never try to overcomplicate a plot, you will lose your reader’s interest. By the end of the game I was banging my head on a wall wishing it to end. No one wants their readers to have that reaction.

The best stories are simpler and easy to understand, you can use the rest of the words for drama and emotion, not exposition. Less is more.

Thank you for reading this post.


2 thoughts on “Writing Tip – My Beef with Plots

  1. How dare you criticise the most holy of texts, the Lord of the Rings! Full of redundant dialogue my arse. Lotr is perfect, its complexity is a boon, not a curse. Its not a simple matter of simplicity compared to complexity, a simple story can be crap as easy as a complex one. Its the quality of the story that is important. I know you like Game of thrones (GoT), there is a vast amount of stuff in them books that could easily be cut out, there must be 1000 named characters in them books at least. Also there are loads of short stories and ‘exposition’ that could be cut and you’d still have a decent story. It would however be all the more hollow and less believable. Worlds are complex, the best fantasy like Lotr and GoT are complex, this makes their worlds that much more believable. The ‘exposition’ in Lotr and GoT gives these stories a depth most fantasy doesn’t acheive and makes the worlds more believable and understandable. Life isn’t simple literature needn’t be simple either.

  2. At first I thought ‘who is this douche bag being so rude on my blog?’ and was wondering how best to answer politely but then I realise it was just by douche bag brother. Hi Ralph.

    Maybe I didn’t express myself so clearly, and yes I was critical, but at the time my head was still spinning (and hurting) from MGS4. I’m not saying plots should be simple or simply written but merely they should be understandable. As much as I love LOTR a modern writer would not be able to publish a book like that in this modern day because of the vast amounts of exposition, of which most people skim over or can’t get through at all. You yourself criticised the second half of The Twin Towers for being ‘a bit boring – nothing much happens’ And as much as I love GOT I also skim through those reams of unnecessary data where he may introduce 20 new characters for one scene and describes what each person is wearing. There’s limits to how much you should put into a story before it becomes bogged down and dull. I’m not saying have simple plots, simple characters, simple language. I’m saying, don’t leave your readers so bored they have to hit their head off a wall. It saps the fun out of reading. I agree with you that worlds are complicated but there’s better ways to demonstrate it than with reams of exposition.

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