Reading this post over at my friend Natalie’s blog reminded me of a conversation I had about the long running TV series CSI. I have a soft spot for the original Vegas based one, yet my enjoyment of it was somewhat dulled when a friend who wasn’t a fan said: I can’t watch it because of all the time they spend telling each other stuff they’d already know.
In writer terms this is classic ‘as you know Bob’ stuff. And in CSI they do it at least once every episode. Yes they try to dress it up as though the fellow staff member is complimenting them on their thought process but it’s sooooo obviously there to tell the viewer, for example, what an epithelial is.
The funny thing is that you often don’t notice this stuff until someone points it out to you, and while that’s partly for writers about a sort of specialist knowledge, it’s also about what you’ll forgive a book/movie/series that you’re enjoying.
A story that absolutely rocks your world when you first read it will often not stand up to a second reading where what blew you away wasn’t the writing but the story, character or idea. You can connect with the work and be carried away by it so that your mind skips over the bumpy bits.
My own take on why successful books etc often seem to achieve this is that people are connecting deeply with the adventure, romance or intrigue of the book. Particularly connecting to character seems to immerse the reader enough to blur the faults of a text, because all you care about is what’s happening to the character.