In the midst of reading a book, have you ever had a sticky question that threatens to open a sizable plot hole, and a sentence later, it’s answered? Not only that, but it’s answered neatly and maybe even humorously with a self-deprecating quip or ironic jab at the character’s situation?
When I used to read question-squashing sentences like these, I used to think Oh, look how bright the author is–anticipating the reader’s question like that! More often now I think, Oh, guess somebody caught that hole for the author. How neatly plugged it is!
Critiquing text and having it critiqued by others changes the way one experiences text. I no longer read a book as once voice but detect the underlying voices–the minds of the critique partners, beta readers, editors, and others who contributed to the final piece.
It takes me out of the text a bit at times, but it is also fun to imagine what comments incited these question-squashing sentences. Perhaps a critique partner’s well-meaning sarcasm was used almost directly in a revision. At times, I detect the author’s frustration in adding text they’d rather not, sure they’d answered a question somewhere else, but the reader still isn’t getting it–argh!
Shout out if you find these moments in the books you read! Do you hear the other voices??
Michelle Joyce Bond