It's no myth that the more we read, the harder it is to impress us. Just goes with the territory of expanding our knowledge. But I've also found that the more writers' work I critique or beta read, the more cynical I become. But let me explain ...
Currently, I'm reading a novel for my Book Club's selection. It's an adult women's fiction and it's wonderful. Very well written, and relatable characters. There was a scene I just read where a robber hold's up a convenient store with one of the MCs inside. She's a budding reporter, and she's got her microphone still on and tries to report the scene to her cameramen in the van outside.
She ends up getting shot in the shoulder, but because she's such a dedicated, ambitious reporter on the rise, she wraps up her shoulder and presses on, helping a scared little boy behind the robber's back and continuing to report the scene in real time.
All the time, I'm thinking to myself, "Come on. She'd be in shock, or pass out or something. She's only 25, and naive. She's not a special agent."
Ends up after the robber is caught by the police who storm the premises, the MC does pass out, but only after establishing herself as a hero, which reaches national news within days after, therefore creating a celebrity. Plot device? Or good old fashioned storytelling?
It didn't ruin the story for me. I can accept it, even if I don't %100 believe it could happen. I mean, who am I to say? Crazy stuff happens all the time in real life, and people are often braver than we give them credit for.
But my point is that during this scene, my cynicism pulled me out of the story. I questioned it. Just like I do when I critique or beta read. Because that's what readers do, right? Honestly, I didn't use to. Before I became a serious writer, I read to enjoy a good story. I allowed the author to whisk me away and as long as the writing was decent and my feelings and imagination were provoked, I loved it.
I can't say that anymore. And I don't know if I like it. It's kind of like being a writer myself, and reading other authors' stories. I can't suspend my disbelief as much anymore. The story is coming from another writer, and if it's a writer I'm critiquing for, I analyze everything for fear of something slipping by that may hurt their story.
But why? Writers have to be the hardest readers out there to impress. We look for errors and believability in everything. This also means that there is still a large population of readers who aren't writers, and still read just to enjoy. I think those are readers worth reaching just as much as our fellow writers.
What do you think? Is it better to be a cynic, or is it just a hazard of the trade? Do you miss the old days when you could read just to enjoy? Do you think as writers we're too tough on other writers' work? Please share ...