At the same time, a writer from a mystery group I subscribe to tried to convince me that that was the nature of genre. You don’t mess with stuff like second thoughts or misgivings because readers won’t stand for it. They want action. They want progression. They want something happening from the get-go with nothing in-between.
Interesting enough, Sir Ben Kingsley appeared on Tavis Smiley’s show and spent a great deal of time saying the exact opposite. Stories were meaningless unless, in between scenes of action, characters’ dilemmas, struggles and all that made them human and understandable were revealed. Otherwise no one would and be able to relate to what’s going on, let alone care. It would tell us nothing about “the human dance.” Stories that don’t deal with what lies beneath are just more escapism for its own sake.
Now wouldn’t it be something if Dan Brown caught this interview and had a complete change of heart? And began sketching in a moment like this:
In the dream, Robert Langdon saw himself running again, always running. A beautiful woman tagging along at his beck and call . . . an ally who would betray him . . . neo Nazi thugs shooting at him . . . a villainess riding an upscale Swedish motorbike tormenting him . . . a shadowy nemesis about to spin the world out of control . . .
Then he woke with a start. Why was it always the same? In truth he could never go running off willy-nilly. He had responsibilities. He was a Harvard professor with students who were counting on him. His friends and colleagues were counting on him. Granted Elaine his research assistant was rather good looking. But she would never just tag along. She was intelligent and had integrity. His dreams were more fantasy, more wish fulfillment night after night. But why couldn’t he take this as a sign he could actually do some good in this world? Perhaps induce Elaine to help him encrypt those Chechen messages to the Tsarnaev brothers he’d inadvertently intercepted. Prevent more terrorist attacks. Yes yes, he’ll do that right after this morning’s lecture. If only he could get her to stop being so standoffish.
Just a thought.