So yeah I have seen a situation where what the writer has put makes sense, but after thinking it through there are clear faults in the logic they used.

Here's my example

A small team is advancing to and organisation. The leader brings in an experienced person to act as their second in command and help build up the organisation.

The second in command gets upset when the leader does not follow the proper procedures when making a decision.

Now the second in command teaches the leader a lesson to get him to start doing the procedures properly.

This is all well and good except when the second in command goes to the extreme to teach him a lesson by abusing their authority and humiliating the leader in front of the team. The second in command doesn't even try and talk it out with the leader at all and just goes right to the extreme option.

Now it ends with the leader blaming themselves after what happens and learning the lesson, but here is the kicker the readers realise the procedures the second in command is upset for the leader not following were never established. The reason the leader never followed them is not their fault, but cause they were never there to begin with and were something the second in command expected the leader to follow, but never told the leader or the team that they were adding these procedures.

See what I mean at first the writer is giving message of a tough lesson learned and the second in command is doing it for the greater good. However once a reader thinks about it more carefully they realise faults in the logic used. This results in them getting annyoned cause the writer has made the leader out to be wrong and leaves it at that making the second in command the good guy. Yet while the story makes it out to be so the readers don't think so now that they noticed the faults.

This has resulted in readers calling it bad writing cause the reaction the author wants and is going for gets contradicted by what actually happens once thought through. I am wondering if anyone has any tips to avoid such a situation or how to fix it when it happens.

  • 3
    From whose perspective are you telling the story? The leader? The second-in-command?
    – Llewellyn
    Mar 15, 2020 at 19:23
  • 2
    It's unclear what your goal in that portraying that conflict actually is. Do you want readers to side with the leader, realizing the second-in-command was being unfair? (It sounds like that's what you want, but rather than blaming the second-in-command, readers blame bad writing. Is that it?)
    – Llewellyn
    Mar 15, 2020 at 19:31
  • 3
    There is no immunity to 'fridge logic'. If the readers picked it apart afterwards it's a plot hole, specifically a character motivation that doesn't make sense so it feels as if the writer cheated to make the story happen. This example is maybe 'fixed' with a subplot that undermines the leader's confidence in adapting to the new protocol. Likewise, the 2nd has a subplot that leads them to be prejudiced or over-confident. Nudge the characters' emotions so the blow-up and retreat makes sense in the heat of the moment – opportunity for some character development stuff later.
    – wetcircuit
    Mar 15, 2020 at 20:16
  • Perceptive is from the leaders. Also this is not my writing, but an example that I experienced the goal of the writer is to have the leader develop and the reader side with second, but readers notice faults which result in them seeing the development being bad while finding faults in the second in command resulting in them siding with the leader who just developed in a counterproductive way. The leader themselves however is siding with second thinking they did wrong and the readers disagree with this.
    – Dark
    Mar 15, 2020 at 23:50

2 Answers 2


This particular example is easy. The plot was apparently reviewed only from one viewpoint - the plot itself. Reviewing it from characters' viewpoints would immediately detect the inconsistency. The leader would never reacted that way (unless he wanted to teach a lesson in humility).

In short - develop your characters, and stay true to them.


It seems to me the readers have already provided the way to avoid the problem: if the problem is the protocol wasn't established, then establish it. How the writer establishes it depends on how they want the characters to handle it:

How was the protocol communicated initially to the whole team? A letter, email, or memo? A meeting of the whole team? Personal one-on-ones between the second in command and each team member? Was it worded in some way that was oversimplified, or over-complicated, and not necessarily clear? Wording that's clear to a character with the second's personality might not mean the same thing to someone with the leader's personality?

Why did the leader not follow protocol? Did he not know about it? Did he assume it didn't apply to him? Did he initially assert that his way is better? Did he think it didn't apply in the particular situation they were in?

The writer could show the leader, after the protocol was initially communicated, breaking it once, the second talking to them about it, but for some reason, the leader still doesn't get the purpose of the protocol, and breaks it again, or at the very least argues why he won't follow it. There needs to be a reason the leader requires the lesson setup before it gets through to him.

This could also be a character building moment for the second in command: maybe though he put out the communication about the protocol, he didn't realize the leader didn't understand completely how it applied to him. But instead of taking him aside and explaining, the second set up this elaborate lesson. Then, much like the readers, a third character, the antihero or black sheep of the group OR a more empathetic character, calls out the second in command for making the leader look bad and feel bad instead of just talking it over with him.

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