Even in the arts, we have to play by the rules.
Whilst queuing up to see my youngest’s school nativity performance last week, my mum and I became involved in a lively discussion about the circumstances of Pixie Lott’s exit from Strictly Come Dancing. The depth of our debate would probably have been more appropriate to an analysis of UKIP’s recent electoral successes, or the future of our place within the European Union, perhaps. But no, it was not. Instead, we were entirely absorbed by the pros and cons of illegal lifts performed during a Cha Cha Cha.
So why should such apparently trivial issues concern us so much? I think I may be beginning to understand why sports fans become so inflamed about the minutiae of athletes’ performances on the pitch/field/court. I’ve never really grasped the concept before, but now I might have got it. There seems to be an innate part of us as humans that loves a competition. And more than that, it needs to be very carefully defined. There have to be strict rules and regulations. At times, we support with our hearts rather than our heads but when push comes to shove, the best team has to win.
If the rules get broken, we simply can’t ignore it.
We might grumble about a decision, but ultimately, we accept the judgement of the adjudicator. As viewers and fans we simply have to, otherwise anarchy would reign.
Not only are we watching a talent show, but we are also observing the exercise of fair play and camaraderie.
Perhaps writing can sometimes be the same way. Flair and originality are what keeps literature alive. But there are also certain rules to stick to, especially in the case of mystery fiction. Justice has to be done and a puzzle solved, if not in one single book then certainly at the end of a series. If you set out to break the rules just be aware, there will be people who become genuinely, and justifiably, upset by it.