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My Characters Got Knocked Out - The Annoyingly Convenient Plot Device

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Have your characters been knocked out, chloroformed, or gone into some state of unconsciousness in your novel?  Well, isn’t that convenient, interesting, exciting?! Eh… I don’t know. I never say don’t do something because there’s always a case where it actually works, but for most cases, avoid this plot device. Please. I don’t know how this pattern came about but it’s used more and more and more often. There’s some sort of dramatic action and then the character passes out and wakes up somewhere else, often missing most of the action or in the hands of the enemy or something. My problem with it: 

  • It’s done a lot in places where it doesn’t need to be done. Does the character really need to be unconscious? You’re missing out on something exciting. Or maybe not exciting, but something! Why not write the really cool thing that’s happening instead?
  • How often do people really get knocked unconscious? I mean, if it’s a hit, it might come with a concussion? How often do people actually get knocked out like that? I’ve never been! I think it’s kind of hard to knock someone unconscious, even with a blow to the head. 
  • Speaking of concussions - I feel like when I read these kinds of scenes, characters get knocked out either by a drug or a hit or something, and there are almost never side effects or health-results from it. I’ve never been unconscious in a situation like this, so I don’t know, but I imagine there must be something! Beyond just confusion. 
  • If you’re going to make a character fall into some state of unconsciousness, make it unique! Face it, you’ll have a ton of scenes from a variety of books to compare your scene to. Make yours incredibly unique - maybe from the source of the state (did they drink to the point of blacking out?) or did they chose to go into this state (did they hire a hypnotist? - technically that’s a different state all together, but it’s not consciousness!) 

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My Characters Got Knocked Out - The Annoyingly Convenient Plot Device
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