I talked in my Speculating Faith article about how the speculative genre should be the safest place for writers to explore their own faith. That is to say, when there’s a ‘common grace’ readers allow their authors–a grace that should never be abused, but that exists nonetheless.
Friday night I was out with some fellow writers, and we started talking about various peeves and preferences when approaching a book or movie. Everyone’s got them. Personally, I’m put off by characters talking too much during a fight/action sequence or an out of place ‘romantic moment,’ just for a couple examples. It is what it is: I read fast and miss paragraphs (to the extent I’ll actually back up and reread a couple pages), so Bad Guy hitting Good Guy, followed by two paragraphs of either taunting or inner monologue about Good Guy’s mother or something, followed by Good Guy finally ducking and taking a swing at Bad Guy really makes me lose my place. Too much and I’ll forget what’s happening in the scene completely.
That said: Even good writers commit the peeves. This is because they’re peeves, not because there’s anything inherently wrong with the writing. (Some people will argue that point with me; and I suppose that’s okay.)
Really, for the most part I’m that reader writers like: I genuinely want this book to be amazing, and I’ll keep reading in anticipation of that brilliant, blow-away ending.
But even I have peeves. I can list several movies and a few books I’ll probably never see or read again, not because they’re poorly done, but because of the peeves. I’ll recommend them to other people, likely, but not for myself. Matter of fact, there are a couple authors (no, I’m not naming them, because it doesn’t matter) who continuously do the same two or three things that drive me crazy, but I keep buying and reading their books anyway.
This is because, in the end, they’re still good books with good plots and good characters. And neither exists without the skill, time, and energy of the writer. Common grace is appreciating those things despite the warts–real or perceived. Common grace doesn’t demand a brand of perfection, but instead accepts that blessings fall on all of us. It doesn’t tear down but builds up; it seeks to save, not destroy. It sees the good and accepts the ill. Such a grace accepts that writers are but mortals, and books written by mortals are only as perfect as the writer who creates them. Grace can overlook a fault; it trusts, hopes, and perseveres.
And, I don’t know. I guess I hope people would show the same grace to me.