Sunday, July 11, 2010

It Happened Again

Are you one to give a second chance or even a third?

Depending on how badly I’m burned the first go around, I might give it a try again. However, some things just aren’t meant to be.

I’ll try to keep this brief. Years ago when video games had just become the rage I ordered a game off of a popular online site. My credit card was charged but I didn’t receive the game. A month went by, I e-mailed asking about the game. The short of it - I was told I had the game, leave them alone. I hadn’t paid through any type of program so I couldn’t get my money back. Lesson learned.

I obtained the game through a different source but decided not to use my credit card online anymore. A year later the video game arrived in my mailbox with the first company’s address in the return slot - still trying to figure that one out.

Fast forward to this past week. I was thrilled to win a gift card from Dorte at DJS KRIMIBLOG. to Amazon. (I have a disclaimer before I continue, this was not caused by my win or anything Dorte did. It’s just my typical luck. I’m still thankful to Dorte for my win.)

I couldn’t pick a book out of all the wonderful books available (plus I’m already behind on my reading) so I decided on a movie. I actually found two movies I wanted so I picked up a prepaid credit card to finish out my order. Placed the order and discovered the movies were coming from two separate sources.

The first movie I selected -THEM - went through with my gift card from Dorte without a problem. In fact, I received it yesterday and have already watched it. It is a classic.

The second movie I purchased using the prepaid card and it was scheduled for delivery late next week. Guess what, less than 24

hours later I got an e-mail. My second movie order had been cancelled but my card wasn’t charged. So I go to re-order from another source - they couldn’t process my card. I call - you guessed it - the first charge was put on the card and not taken off. I’ve sent an e-mail to the seller but I know I’ve just lost that money. The amount wasn’t that much, it’s just the principal. Burned a second time.

Okay I’ve got that out of my system (mostly) but it got me to thinking. I enjoy reading books where the characters have problems similar to this or just life problems in general. It makes the story more believable to me. I don’t want there to be continuous problems, but the character should encounter a few bumps in the road of life.

Sometimes when dealing with problems we are lead in different directions than we would have ever gone. That can be helpful to a protagonist or can cause them more problems acting as a red herring.

When you write do you make sure to include problems (murders don’t count) or does your characters create their own mishaps?

If you just read, do you want problems in the story or would you rather avoid any problems all together? Does too many problems turn you off from reading or make you want to know what else can go wrong for this character? And, what is too many problems?


  1. Maybe give it a week and try again. Sometimes these sites place a 'hold' on the card to ensure the money will be there when they DO ship. Once their systems update, the hold should be removed and you should be able to use the card again.

    And if not, I'd raise holy hell cuz it's not right.

  2. I don't like too many problems in a story. Some are fine but over-dramatising for the sake of it I can't stand

  3. Interesting question as I just read a chapter in Sol Stein's book On Writing where he talks about not giving characters what they want, keeping the problems going to build suspense etc. No, I don't particulary like those kinds of books. I like things to ebb and flow. (Sorry about your experience with the card, that's too bad.)

  4. I'm really sorry things aren't going well on the on-line department. I use amazon A LOT and I've never had a problem but I could understand that problems happen. I'm pretty forgiving but because my husband isn't I often have to be more harsh than I would like to be. I hope you get your money back and can receive your movie.


  5. I think conflict should be the focus more than creating problems just to create them. Conflict can be interior and emotional.

    It depends on the genre, really.

    Do I want my character to aim for a point and keep getting shoved back? Yes. Do I want him getting blown up every two feet, when it's a love story? Not necessarily.

    The problems should fit the story.

    - Corra

    The Victorian Heroine

  6. I don't mind a little problem as long as it doesn't overshadow the main plot.

  7. Don't give up on getting that credit! I'm like a dog with a bone when someone has my money.

    I think there has to be some kind of problem in a story, so you can have a resolution.

  8. Vicki, I'll get it a week and check. Maybe, it will be put back on the card.

    Nicole, I'm with you over the over-dramatizing. A few problems are okay.

    KarenG, ebb and flow is good. To me the suspense should grow, not the problem.

    Clarissa, thanks for the encouragement. Hopefully things will work out in time.

    Corra, you're so right. The problems have to fit the story and they have to be believable problems that one might have.

    Dru, you make a good point. The problem should be just that - little, not the main focus.

    Kathy, I'm going to work on getting it straighten out. Love your way of thinking.

  9. Mason - I am sorry you weren't able to get that movie - how frustrating! I hope you get it straightened out. As your experience shows, problems really are just a part of life. Small and big problems happen to everyone, so it makes writing more real if problems happen in fiction, too. I do have things happen to my character - um, besides the obvious problem that one of them gets killed - and I think it does help make a story more realistic.

  10. With businesses, I *don't* usually give second chances unless they really try to kiss and make up (and that means major coupons or free products to make up for my distress!) :)

    I do have little, grating irritants in my trouble, waiting on hold for too long, etc, to create a little stress for my characters. When they're stressed, they react to life differently than when everything is hunky-dory. :)

  11. I like some problems, but not so many that it feels obvious that the writer is trying to direct my attention away from the main problem. (Sort of like a clumsy magician showing a trick.)

    Sorry about your problems. Sometimes you feel things like that are not accidents. It may not have been much money, but if it's done often enough, it adds up.

  12. To an extent, everyday problems work for me. They give the story realism, because who glides through their days without them? They add a nice layer, done right.

    I'm sorry about your order. When you use a major credit card, you can petition the bank holding the card to not pay the amount when there is a conflict. They'll hold up paying until the issue is resolved. Good luck!

  13. Great question. Unless the story is a slapstick comedy, then having too many things go wrong can quickly cuase me to close the book. I love conflict as this moves the story forward. But I don't like a loveable loser.

    Stephen Tremp

  14. I like when the problems seem realistic and spring from either the characters actions (or inactions) or from the problem they're investigating.

  15. Sorry you've had such issues!

    The bigger problems are things that happen to my characters while the smaller ones are things they caused. Just sorta the way it's worked out so far.

  16. Margot, those tiny problems we face each day does make stories more realistic to me.

    Elizabeth, I like your dealings with major companies. I'll have to remember that. The little bits of stress in a story are good.

    Helen, when the author throws too many problems in I feel their main plot isn't strong enough so they try distracting me.

    Joanne, you're right. I don't think we can go through a day without some type of minor problem. LOL

    Stephen, a lovable loser is only funny if they are in a slapstick comedy.

    Jemi, the problems rising from the characters actions are the best and more realistic.

    Diane, characters have to cause a little conflict too. It's fun to see what they can cause some times.

  17. I am really sorry you have had problems with your card. But I really think that if you send an E-mail to Amazon and explain the problem, they will sort it out. I don´t think I have ever had problems with them (I don´t use them often), but the two times that I have been less than satisfied with the service of Abebooks I have complained, and they have been extremely service-minded. So a large company as Amazon will probably also listen to their customers and make sure you get your money´s worth.

  18. If you order though Amazon even thought you used an outside seller, contact Amazon. They will intervene.

    It always seems there is one thing in our lives that just always goes wrong no matter how careful we are. I'm sorry to hear about this frustrating mess.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.