What makes you put a book down and refuse to read anything else by that author?
Being rejected by an editor can be disconcerting. Getting rejected by a reader is downright demoralizing, so writers work hard to brainstorm a story that is engaging as well as accurate in detail. Then, we have to string together just the right words, sentences, paragraphs, scenes, and chapters to make you, the reader, want to turn from page one to page two, two to three, three to four, etc., until you close the cover with contentment.
We don’t always get everything right. Sometimes, we’re too wordy to make it interesting. Maybe the book is too graphic in speech or violence, or the story is just plain silly. I’ve rejected books for those reasons, closing them after deciding not to read on. But I don’t always reject the author.
Now, this has nothing to do with anything I’ve written, but I’ve heard people say, if they found an error in a book, they will never read anything by that author again. What? It seems to me that’s like buying a package of slightly moldy cheese from a store and saying you’ll never buy that brand again.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not arguing whether or not fiction should contain accurate facts. When I read a novel, I love being able to learn something I didn’t know before and, wholeheartedly, believe that as writers it’s our duty to do the best we can to be accurate. I’m not talking about rejecting an author who writes book after book loaded with errors with no obvious concern for getting the facts straight. And, yes, I can see being upset if Lincoln’s assassination takes place in a novel six months later than it actually did.
I’m talking about rejecting everything an author has done or will do in the future because he or she had a main character in a book who originally bought a 1964 Ford Mustang in the fall of 1963. Maybe the error is too distracting to continue with the book. I understand that. Maybe trust for anything else that author writes has been lost. I guess I get that, too, but that tends to make me want to say, “Lighten up a bit. It’s not a textbook.”
Yes, this post could be considered a rant, not something I like to do, especially here. However, the idea of rejecting all of a person’s work in the future for a little bad research or, heaven forbid, an intentional change to make it fit the story, reminds me of someone in the public eye saying something politically incorrect. The next thing we know everyone is clamoring for his head and, at the very least, his job.
All this is my opinion, of course. You may see it differently and I’d love to know how you feel one way or the other. So…
What say you? How blatant does one novel’s inaccuracy have to be for you to say, “I’ll never read anything by that man/woman again!”?
Great post, Sandy.
I’m typically a “middle-of-the-road” type of person – so I’ll always give the writer the benefit of the doubt. I love to learn new things in fiction and I trust my author. If the author has an error but a great story, I’ll read he or she again.
For me, it is more about the story, but I believe every author must work hard to ensure there are as few errors as humanly possible!
The errors made in research would have to permeate the entire book for me to put down a book and say I’d never read anything by that author again. I can overlook the occasional mistake, but the book has to grab my attention and hold it, or I’m done by page 50.
I agree with both of you. It could be a case of throwing the baby out with the bath water.