Rod Raglin

This blog will touch on the experiences I have as a writer (not to be mistaken for my experience as a writer, i.e. how many books I've written, etc); the pleasure and the pain, the joy and the grief, the satisfaction and the frustration, the magic and the reality - have I left anything out, oh yeah, the rejection, rejection and more rejection,  the humiliation and the embarrassment, the jealousy and the resentment - that pretty much covers it, except for why I do it which perhaps I'll realize along the way. Are you totally confused? Good, let's begin.

Easily resolved conflict can't sustain plot

There’s this covered bridge across a river. The bridge is very old, it’s what you’d call heritage, it needs to be preserved.

 

Then there are the truck-loggers. They take felled trees and truck them to the mills. That’s what they do for a living. The more trips they make, the more money they make and those big rigs are not only expensive but also cost a small fortune to run and maintain.

 

The problem is the bridge can only accommodate one-way traffic at a time. So one logging truck waits while one RV with a family of tourists approaches. Then it’s the logging truck’s turn while a school bus waits on the other side and so on.

 

Pretty frustrating for everyone, right? Especially the loggers who are watching money go down stream while they wait for their turn to cross. By the way, there is another crossing 20 or so kilometres away they could use but it would add to their costs. Could they not add that additional expense to the price of hauling a load? How did the author miss this seemingly obvious solution?

 

 Anyhow, the loggers want the old bridge torn down and a new one constructed, the townsfolk (we’re talking tourist money) want it maintained.

 

As soon as this conflict was identified I asked the obvious question. Not the first obvious one about trucking rates, the other obvious one - why not build a second new bridge near the old one and make everybody happy? I mean, if a covered wooden bridge can span the river we’re not talking about the St Lawrence.

 

Funny, neither of these no-brainers are considered in Trevor Ferguson’s novel The River Burns. When an author attempts to build a novel on such a flimsy conflict, I’m suspicious.

 

I couldn’t imagine the characters putting it all on the line for an issue that could easily be resolved, at least in my mind. If that wasn’t enough, the clichéd characters spouting didactic passages about environmental issues finished me off.

 

I got about a third of the way when I abandoned it. The River Burns – me.