I didn’t think this was an issue, but after reading so many books, both by published authors and author-hopefuls, I realize it’s not only an issue, it has become an ACCEPTABLE NORM, which I think is very, very sad.
This is so important to me that I actually stopped in the middle of editing The Foes Between Us, first book in The Last Wizard series, to write this post. The scene I was editing actually sparked this thought.
So what do I speak of when I say “common sense” in writing? I love examples, so, for example, in my novel, Bob (fake names and no gender are used to protect the innocent) is kidnapped by gypsies. Bob was wearing a silver necklace which Bob wore specifically to bait a thief so Bob could hire the thief. In the original version of the story, Bob was kidnapped by the gypsies and then saved by the thief Bob was trying to hire, and Bob used the silver necklace to pay the thief for the job Bob wanted the thief to do.
The common sense issue I ran into that was this: why didn’t the gypsies take the silver necklace off Bob and keep it for themselves? Having the gypsies take the silver necklace off Bob would take away Bob’s only payment to hire the thief. But I can’t ignore the common sense factor there. So I thought really hard and decided the gypsies taking the silver necklace was more realistic in the story, and I came up with another form of payment for Bob to use. So what was the end result? Bob was able to pay the thief in a different way AND I was able to keep the common sense factor intact.
THINGS I’VE SEEN IN BOOKS THAT IGNORE THE COMMON SENSE FACTOR WHICH DRIVES ME ABSOLUTELY BONKERS:
Good guy and bad guy get in shootout. Good guy runs across an open space and bad guy – though he’s a trained assassin – can’t hit the good guy worth sh*t: bullets hitting the floor, the ceiling, the wall, grazes the good guy’s shoulder…and the good guy gets away. Well, CLEARLY, we all want the good guy to get away, but the writer sacrificed common sense to make it happen, which made the story unrealistic and not as fulfilling as it otherwise could have been. Plus, what’s so wrong about the good guy getting near-fatally shot?
Jill is scuba diving, but had to disconnect from her tank for good reason. Now she’s underwater without oxygen, swimming around, but not seemingly troubled by not being able to breath, despite her adrenaline also pumping.
I’ve been struggling lately finding a book that 1) has stellar writing style 2) is realistic in their world 3) leaves no loose ends 4) doesn’t drag on with useless details 5) doesn’t ignore the common sense factor. In every book I’ve read in the past white, they had at least one of the above violations I listed. Most readers won’t pick up on what I list as violations. But I can’t ignore them. I see them as clearly as I see words on a page. It comes down to quality, and – though I don’t claim to be perfect – I at least have a mind to see the violations I make myself and do everything possible to whittle them out. Quality. That’s what I strive for, and that’s what I beg other writers to strive for, too.
Now, back to editing The Foes Between Us.