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.
There is nothing wrong with telling lies for a living. Writers of fiction are not the only ones who do it. So long as there is no intent to commit fraud or harm, why should we not? After all, it is not only writers who tell lies for a living. Poets, artists, singers and songwriters, actors, commedians…
Why do we love these liars, buy their books, music, art and movies? Because we find value in suspending our disbelief, opening our hearts and minds to their lies and finding that most valuable kernel of truth.
Stories, released to the world, can end up in the most unusual and unexpected places.
Readers see and impose their own meaning and purpose on our stories.
Which stories have impacted you most? Inveigled their way into your life and never left? Revealed new aspects years after you believed you knew all about them?
What can a writer do when writing becomes harder than usual? One thing I ask myself is, how much reading for pleasure have I done lately? It’s easy to get busy and neglect your personal reading, or get bogged down in reading for work and forget to read for yourself.
Read something different, exciting, out of the ordinary. Ignite your imagination.
Humans a capable of much more than any of us ever achieve. Books can inspire us to go further and do more than we would ever imagine without reading. For example, how many of us would be inspired to travel if we didn’t know what was out there in the world? How many of us would never test our current limits if we didn’t know what others have achieved in the past and are achieving at present?
Read widely and well. Be inspired to greatness.