As a reader, I want to escape into a story and don’t want to return until I absolutely must. This kind of escapism is not unusual. Life is not ideal. We can’t always afford to take ourselves away from the life we have. Books and movies give us a more affordable way to live a different life, if only for a few hours. When we escape like this, the last thing we want is to be dropped out of our fantasy world and brought back to reality with a thump.
When editing, my job is to look for things which will drop a reader out of the story. Some of these can be:
- spelling, grammar and punctuation errors;
- characters acting ‘out of character’ or stupidly;
- awkward phrasing, lack of clarity;
- breaking the rules of the story world;
- breaking the rules of the genre (killing the hero in a romance story).
These and others are dangerous to the career of the writer because once a reader is ‘dumped’ out of the story, they might:
- remember all the things they should be doing instead of reading;
- get so frustrated they throw the book at the wall; and/or
- never forgive the writer and write them on their blacklist.