Trust and Fiction
I’ve been thinking a lot about a specific kind of trust lately - the trust between a creator and their audience. For example, George R.R. Martin? I don’t trust him, but that doesn’t mean I won’t read his books as they come out. I’ll just read them cynically. ;-)
I like knowing where I stand with fiction authors. It’s an intimate relationship. I’m letting this person build his or her world in my head, opening myself up to their characters, living a whole ‘nother life through them. With really good writing, I see what the characters see, hear what they hear, feel what they feel.
So when I’m talking about “trusting” the author, I’m talking about them being somehow gentle (or at least consistent) with the world I’ve found my way into. It’s still very much their world; I know I’m a guest there, and sometimes bad things happen. But what I like about really good writing is that bad things don’t happen without a reason - even if that reason is simply that in real life sometimes bad things happen and we don’t know why. For a long time, if ever.
Authors I don’t trust? Gratuitously slaughter characters for no good reason, or worse, warp them out of all recognition over the course of a series. I’m not talking about natural character development, but basic changes to the character’s personality or outlook that make absolutely no sense to me.
I read the last 50 or so pages of Andy Weir’s The Martian wondering if I could trust the author (it was his first book).
I’ll read anything Ursula LeGuin writes, and trust that if she breaks my heart, I’ll still come away a better person.
Scott Lynch? I should have known not to trust him after the first book, but I did anyway, and…that jerk! For the foreseeable future, though, I will still read absolutely anything he writes. I love his writing, his world, I love his characters, and I trust that maybe things will make sense someday.
And I’ll probably forget how mad I was at him, until the next time. I wasn’t, like, book-flinging mad, but it was close.
It’s all subjective, anyway.