Monday, March 31, 2008

The Writer Brain Curse

It's bad enough that after years of critiquing and editing my own and other writers' work that it's almost impossible to read a book for the sheer fun of it. I can't shut off the editor in my brain. I can't help but rewrite sentences in my head as I go or notice plot holes and character motivation problems.

But it's getting worse.

The research end of my brain is now poking holes into plots too.

I recently finished reading a book that had a rip-roaring fun plot. The story was action-packed and very well written. My editor brain didn't even have to pull out the red pen too often.

The problem, then? Factual details that . . . weren't.

And this isn't even a historical novel.

Three (among many) that jumped out at me:

1) This one is something almost everyone knows: referring (several times) to knowing that you don't have cell phone reception because there is no dial tone. Excuse me? Okay, so the book is probably ten years old. Cell phones weren't as commonplace a decade ago. But they did exist, and anyone who has used one knows that there is no dial tone. Instead you have those bars that tell you if you have a signal. (I hear that a company is now making cell phones that do have dial tones, especially for seniors who are used to such things. But that's the exception, not the rule, people.) How did this one get past the author and the editor?

The next one I know thanks to my son's new passion: Mythbusters. I swear, that show is going to forever ruin all kinds of movies and books for me.

2) Blasting doors and locks open with a gun. Not possible, even with a dead-on aim, and definitely not with one or two shots. Happened at least twice in this book (and a ton of other books and movies).

And finally, one I learned through funky reading material discovered in an article in Writer's Digest that suggested writers go to expert websites to get their facts straight:

3) A character is murdered and his eyes are cut out of his head so the bad guy can use them to get past a retinal scanner. The catch? According to the article, retinal scanners only work on LIVING eyeballs. You can't take one out of a person's head and hold it up to the scanner. (Sorry, Tom Cruise, that part of Minority Report doesn't wash.) Too bad that a good chunk of this book's plot line depends on that particular murder and retinal scanner.

See what I mean? It's getting tougher all the time for me to suspend disbelief. Maybe that's why I'm reading so much fantasy lately.

Sigh . . . sometimes I'd love to be able to just immerse myself in a good yarn again without overthinking it.


Karlene said...

Ah, but can you cut someone's finger off and use it to open a fingerprint lock?

Seriously, we really need to get that info out there to all bad guys. It's one thing to be murdered for a good reason, but to be murdered for something that won't even work is a real bummer.

Tristi Pinkston said...

I can't read and just enjoy it anymore, either -- but I wouldn't have known about the eyeball thing. That's sorta gross, anyway . . .

Don said...

I've had the suspension of disbelief problem for a long time. It causes me to throw books sometimes.

The style editor has been there, too. But he's been finding more and more things to get upset about as I have increased my writing experience.

Blondie said...

I recently read a best selling self-help book that had horrendous spelling and punctuation problems--not just once or twice, but several times in each chapter. It became very distracting.
As I read it I thought, "Annette shouldn't read this. She would have a fit!"

Julie Wright said...

Karlene's comment made me laugh. Yeah that would so suck to get bumped off for no good reason! And I am sighing with you. I read a book last week that was a great story, and I mentally edited through the whole thing. I still love reading, but it gets harder and harder. Watching movies is hard too. Dialogue is so pivotal to a movie, and so many movies do it WRONG that it drives me to distraction.

Luisa Perkins said...

Too much information is a curse.

I really enjoyed the movie "The Other Boleyn Girl," except for two HUGE anachronisms/errors that kicked me right out of the story. I hate that.

The visual anachronism that gets me every time is using hybrid tea roses in a movie set before 1865 or so. It happens more often than you would think.

Unknown said...

Wow, I guess knowledge can get in the way sometimes. Yeah, Annette. I'll admit it . . . that happens to me too. Sounds like the book was really good though!


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