Reality, what a concept

Word count: 274                                                                                                Reading time: 2 min

Recently a friend said that not everyone reads like I do. Apparently I demand a lot from novels because I want credibility. I don’t want reality to the exclusion of caricature or metaphor or other wondrous literary devices. I’m not looking for it in sci fi or fantasy. But in everyday garden-variety fiction shouldn’t the laws of nature and human nature be evident?

It’s late summer and daffodils are blooming in the garden. Really?

A 19th century schoolteacher with no income, other than her subsistence level job, is fired. Can she really afford to live on her own, in a hotel no less, for an indefinite period until rescued by a proposal of marriage?

A character goes to a big high school and finds a secret room where she can hide every time her demons overwhelm her. Is it possible only one teenager in an entire would test doors to see if they’re locked? That only one teenager would go places she shouldn’t? Can I believe that this room will remain undiscovered for the whole school year or until the climax, when the protagonist’s tormentor finds her there?

When I hit one of these road bumps, I usually re-read the earlier part of the book to see where I missed the essential detail. Once I’ve satisfied myself that it’s a simple continuity error, I never engage with the story in the same way again.

Do credibility issues suspend your belief in a story? If so, can you remember any really good ones? Or do you just read past structural weaknesses?

Lastly, where have all the editors gone?