Sunday, April 5, 2009

Don't Forget to Read!

I mean, we're all readers, or else you wouldn't be stopping by.

I like books. You like books. We all like books. We forgive our favorite authors their lapses in characterization, their little plot holes, the things they forget to tell us, and we fill the blanks in our own minds, recreating a story-world that becomes all ours.

As long as the story is compelling, we'll forgive. Pile up too many errors, and we get mad.

Whether we read or watch a movie, we tend to argue with the characters. "You idiot, how could you believe this, he never said..." (fill in the blank). Or: "well, of course, I don't know what you heard, but that's not what she said."

We want the characters to pay attention. And a skilled writer will play on the fact that a reader will be more aware of the story-world than even its own people.

Why then don't we read everything with the same care and attention?

Contracts. Announcements. Ads. Newspaper articles.

What's there is obviously there, but we never seem to stop and consider what isn't there. What hasn't been said. We become both the characters (but not the smart detectives) and the fiction readers of our real world.

We fill in the blanks of our reality the way we fill in the blanks of our story-worlds. With what we'd like to be there.

Whereas we should be the detectives of our reality. Eve Dallas. Columbo. Patrick Jane. Sherlock Holmes.

We should be observing, noting the missing pieces, the things unsaid, the details avoided, and drawing conclusions as much from the missing evidence as from the facts staring us in the face.

And like the CSI heroes, we shouldn't just leap to conclusions. We should look for that evidence.

All that in a text.

Paranoid? Who, me?

Nah. Just a reader.