Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Matter of Trust

I finished reading a book a few days ago by bestselling author Rebecca Wells (don’t worry, the review is coming) and it dawned on me that I didn't scrutinize the words at all. My normal skepticism faded and I just enjoyed her work. I didn’t debate the use of passive verbs. There was no analysis of the repetitive concepts. Nothing.

Then it hit me – I trusted her.

I trusted Ms. Wells to create the right setting. I trusted her to choose the right words. Most of all, I trusted her to carry me through the entire story, letting me believe her characters were living, breathing people with real wants and needs. (How’s that for repetition?)

So, what makes us trust an author?

Is it status or education? What about sales figures – do they factor into our decision?

I would love to believe that if you’ve proven yourself to be a competent writer, readers will give themselves to the story without question. But, alas, that is not the way it is. I’ve read several books by people considered “great” and I still find myself nit-picking the technique. For example, why would they elect to use a “to be” verb when an active one would have been so much cleaner? Or what’s with all the stinkin’ adverbs?

It’s a conundrum really. Any thoughts out there in cyberspace?


  1. I trust authors I know and authors I like. I've discovered I don't trust anything online (e.g. from a critique group); mistakes I would slide right by in a paperback are, for some reason, far more blaring on the computer screen.

    If it's an author I don't know, I think I don't trust them in the beginning. I scrutinize everything until I get into the story (assuming I get into it).

  2. I remember discussing this in a class once upon a time... just how the act of reading something on paper makes it more trustworthy than if it was a person on the street.

    I kind of wonder if our migration to an online world has lessened our scepticism even more now? Previously what was on paper was more trustworthy than what we read online, but with our sources of information more and more being online, now we even trust that without much hesitation... "I read it in a blog, it must be true!" moves over to Twitter (That must be true too!) so what is the next step in this progression? We will trust everything and everyone? Interesting.