I spent most of the past 5 days working in the yard at our house in the country. Three years ago, a leprosy-carrying critter tunneled all around the foundation of our house and pretty far up under the foundation of the back porch.
Our neighbor tried to trap it in a cage made for wild critters. He succeeded only in catching 1 pissed-off giant skunk instead.
I learned a lot about wildlife pests that year. For instance, only 1 thing deters an armadillo. Death. My only hope was that it might become road kill. I guess that eventually happened because it stopped coming around. By then, the yard was wrecked. Mulch was scattered everywhere, shrubs were uprooted, flowers were dead.
Real life problems intervened, then last year, another armadillo found our yard. Same story. I bought Coyote Urine Granules which was touted as an armadillo deterrent. Well, it didn’t deter the armadillo, but it sure made us run for cover. Eventually, that pest must have met a speeding car on the highway too.
This year, we made the commitment to evict the weeds that had replaced the landscaping. Big commitment, and an even bigger job!
You may be wondering what this has to do with the title of my post. When I’m pulling weeds and digging up surviving plants, I have a lot of time to think. So I thought about books and reading. I thought about my work in progress and suspension of disbelief which led me to think about how readers would accept my new story. Another leap, and I was thinking about how a writer reads versus how a reader reads.
I think as writers we always look at situations in books from a writer’s viewpoint. I don’t think readers look at those same situations in the same way.
For instance, if a writer is trying to create a situation in which the protagonist does something most people wouldn’t do, the writer agonizes over how to make it believable to the reader. The writer jumps through all kinds of mental hoops to create a situation in which readers will suspend their disbelief and follow the viewpoint character through the story.
Actually, I don’t think most readers (who are non-writers) ever really think about whether a situation is outlandish–especially if they immediately identify with the viewpoint character. They’re not thinking about the story in the same way as writers.
Most readers are wanting to be taken on an adventure so they’re not nearly as critical as writers. Otherwise, there would be no paranormal or fantasy sales or any of the other genres populated by high concept books. There’d probably be a lot fewer romance and mystery sales too.
When a reader wants a mystery, he/she probably doesn’t pick up a book, read the blurb, and think: I don’t believe a wacky woman could work as a bail recovery agent. Or, the reason this housewife wants to play sleuth is ridiculous.
Writers who are reading will think like that, but readers don’t. Readers just dive in, wanting an adventure, wanting to be entertained. Readers are more lenient with books than writers, as long as the reader is entertained. Ultimately, suspension of disbelief is achieved by being carried away by a story and its characters.
Regardless of the genre, readers follow this thought process: “Hmm. This sounds intriguing.” If it does, they buy. Readers buy based on the way the story or the character resonates with them. They don’t pick apart the blurb or over-analyze the premise.
Writers may buy the same book, but that little editor inside them is constantly analyzing and critiquing–not just the writing and the story, but the way it was marketed too.
At least that’s my 2 cents. What do you think?
I loosely based the setting in my Outlaw Ridge, Texas series on the country-side near our house. In Heat Lightning, the first book of the series, the only varmints Tessa and David encounter are the two-legged variety. Heat Lightning is free on Kindle Unlimited, or only $2.99 to buy. Dead Heat, Book 2 of the series, will be published in July.