I recently watch “The Last Action Hero.” I’ve been told on numerous occasions that it’s not a very good movie, but I still felt compelled to watch it. I enjoyed it. I’m not being contrary though. I realized what the problem likely is. There are movies that for one reason or another, the first half is better than the second half.
If I were to go all “writing advice” for a paragraph or three, I would say this. It’s truly unfortunate that sometimes the ideas you have are simply the ideas you have. I’ve started stories where I’ve gotten six pages in just to realize that my character is lying on the floor bleeding from multiple hammer wounds to the head, or a similarly compelling plot point, just to realize that the next twenty or so pages just aren’t going to be quite as interesting.
If you’re going to write a story where half of it is much better that the other half, you’re always better with a story where the second half is better. It’s very tough to win an audience if they are halfway through a movie, singing its praises, and then they’re bored or disappointed with the rest. You built up an expectation and then didn’t deliver.
There is a lot of talk about hooking your reader in from the start. If you don’t have your reader hooked from the first page then they will go read something else. Fuck ‘em. I’m not really all that concerned with someone who has no attention span hanging around my sentences, paragraphs, and chapters. They’re just here to cause trouble, and probably sell drugs to my sub plots. The truth is that if the first half of your movie (or story) sort of sucks, and people give up on it, you still have the backup plan that someone might tell them, “Oh, it gets better, you should totally finish it.”
Unfortunately for “The Last Action Hero” there was a strong farcical element in the first half of the movie that wasn’t really too prevalent in the second half. It was still amusing, just not as interesting.