Saturday, November 16, 2013

Query Peeves #9: The Choice That Ain't.

"Faced with overwhelming obstacles, Mona must chose between a soul-sucking life with her abusive boyfriend Steve, or riding rainbow glittercorns with super-gorgeous manhunk Sven."

The choice that ain't is exactly that: not a real choice. Oh, sure, it's been dressed up like a choice, perhaps with a little frock coat and some new shoes, but we all know there's no way in hell that Mona's sticking with Steve. When one side of the choice is awful, the other is awesome, and there are no consequence besides the obvious, that's not a choice, it's just a change of plans.

The choice that's not a choice can also show up as two choices which are equally good, eg, "Mona must decide whether to become the fairy princess of Elfland, or the dragon princess of Dragonia." Maybe that's a hard decision for Mona, but unless something awful hangs in the balance, the outcome is still going to be Happily Ever After (or whatever) no matter what Mona picks, so who cares?

And "Who cares?" is definitely not what you want anyone to think about your query.

Here's an example of a real choice: "The clock is running out. Bob can follow the crazy old man's clues to try to find his sister before the terrorists kill her, or he can try to warn the officials that the bridge is about to blow up in the middle of rush hour." No matter what Bob does, someone's going to die. His sister is more important to him than a bunch of strangers, but his sister's only one person, and there are a bunch of them. That's a choice that matters.

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