Why, in Double Indemnity (Wilder, 1944), does the door to Walter Neff’s (Fred MacMurray) apartment open outwards? One answer is that, for some reason, the building was eccentrically designed. An entirely different kind of answer says that Wilder needed to place it that way so that Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwyck) could not be seen in the corridor by Barton Keyes (Edward G. Robinson), and he needed to bring this about for dramatic effect. Seeking an answer of the first kind — an answer given from the internal perspective — we are asking what Kendall Walton calls a ‘silly question’. On the doctrine of silly questions, we ought not to seek an internal explanation when to do so would require us to elaborate improbable scenarios that distract us from the work’s real qualities and purpose, and where there is some evident external explanation, like the one just offered. Sometimes the identification of a question as ‘silly’ indicates, not so much a good dramatic reason, but an authorial intervention designed merely to raise our awareness of the artifice involved in narrative composition. Ivy Compton-Burnett gets rid of one set of characters by having them fall down a ravine — an intrinsically improbable event in the Home Counties, as Hilary Spurling observed. Compton-Burnett could have achieved the same effect in various, less-improbable ways, and chose this one, presumably, as a means of defying naturalistic technique. In such cases as these we are not to deny that the door opens outwards or that the characters fell down a ravine — we just should not expend energy on thinking about how, within the world of the story, this came about.
– Gregory Currie, Narratives & Narrators: A Philosophy of Stories (2010)