I think we’ve all met at least one Miss (or Mister) Know-It-All in our lifetime. This person can readily inform you of the proper way to juice a pomegranate; suggest better yielding stocks in your retirement portfolio; and recite a dissertation about the incompetence of today’s parents – no research needed.
If that’s not annoying enough, the Know-It-All lays claim to all the best ideas. Even if the original thought was not their own, they build on the foundation, convince themselves the idea was their baby – and then, they can even get you to believe it too. The Know-It-All is slicker than a used car sales person dipped in margarine.
Perhaps you can see why it disturbs me to realize that I’m a fiction Miss Know-It-All. In nearly every book I’ve read over the last couple months, I’ve had thoughts like:
- “That character would’ve been so much more believable if he hadn’t been a cliché.”
- “The story would’ve been richer if the nemesis hadn’t been so obviously messed up. They should’ve thrown in some endearing qualities to make me feel sorry for her.”
- “The main character got off too easy. She should’ve faced more struggles before getting what she wanted.”
These authors just need to tell me: “If you think you can do better, go write a book yourself.”
Yeah, that’d shut me up. (Because I’m making soooo much progress on that endeavor ;))
I used to read just to read. The only opinions I had at the end of a novel were: “I liked it” or “I didn’t like it.” Once upon a time, I didn’t re-dream characters or remodel an author’s concept. Because I wrote (but didn’t publish a novel) and penned a few short stories, now I think I can improve on a published author’s story?
I confess I’m really a Miss Knows-Nothing-About-Everything dressing as Miss Know-It-All. Though I looked darn good in those pumps, I’m going to return them to Miss Know-It-All. And then I’m going to get to the business of writing my own novel. There’s only one way to know for sure if I can write a better story: prove it!
Tell me, what kind of reader are you? Do you find yourself critiquing your leisure reading? Can you push the analysis out of your mind and just enjoy the read?