Why would we want to do that?
As readers we want to believe what we're reading is true, don't we? Of course, but that's only when we read nonfiction.
When we read fictional novels, we actually do something interesting, often as an automatic response.
We know the story is not true, even though it may contain many facts. But here is where we actually choose to set aside that part of us that doesn't believe a word of what we're reading and accept what the author has written ... all of it.
Yes, we deliberately suspend our unbelief.
Now here is where the onus is on the author to convince you to believe and thus accept the plot and the reality of the characters.
It's a big job. Authors are expected to do thorough research to make the whole story resonate with his or her readers. And when they don't, we get disgusted and lose interest. Yet when an author is also an avid reader it becomes difficult to simply read for enjoyment and set aside their critical eye. But should they?
I don't believe so. We can all learn from each other. We can appreciate the author's skill, but we can also see where they may have slipped up here and there on certain "rules" we believe they should have followed. Here is where we must use caution. As we all know rules are helpful in just about every case. Yet there are times when they can also be cumbersome. I personally love it when an editor points out mistakes, ( and I've made enough of them!) or suggests other ways to write in order to strengthen the storyline or double check facts.
And don't fall into the trap of
thinking "that couldn't have happened" or "they wouldn't act that way". Dan
Walsh's book, The Deepest Waters is a case in point. Many of our
Australian authors incorporate things that have happened to
them into their stories, even if it might seem far fetched.
Real life truth can be far
stranger than fiction. And people do not always act the way we expect them to. There are many
underlying reasons for this.
We don't always know why we sometimes say or do things we wouldn't ordinarily
do or say! So why should our characters be any different?
Ah, it all makes for great
reading doesn't it? Let's remember that with the next book you read. (I
mentioned Dan's book because I admit I thought he was stretching my suspension
of unbelief a bit thin. How wrong was I?)
I wonder how many of us read books with our mental editor at work or whether we can switch off and enjoy.
Rita and her husband co-present the Christian radio program Vantage Point, broadcast on FM stations around Australia. She had two historical romances published and her novel, Signed Sealed Delivered, can be found on Amazon Kindle. Books II & III of her trilogy are still in the pipeline.