When writers read we tend to put on different hats while perusing the written word. Whenever we put on our Reader’s Hat, we enjoy a story just like anybody else. But in something of a balancing act we also wear our Writer’s Hat, which means we’re compelled to analyze and pick it apart along the way.
The same goes with architects when it comes to buildings. People like me look at a building and say, “Wow, that’s impressive looking with all that solid stone. Ew, what an ugly gargoyle!” An architect will look at the same building and say something like, “The symmetry of the structure is consistent with the solid foundation. Oh, what an appropriate gargoyle!”
So when writers are reading a story, we tend to appraise it with remarks like, “The plot was believable and the structure made the words flow. Oh, what an appropriate metaphor!”
The thing is, we don’t want to be blatant when we employ this or that technique to our writing. One of my beta readers is also a writer, and I kind of like it when she points out “Aha! I see you did this!” But that also means in a way I like it when the other beta readers don’t point out such details.
We want the readers to have a seamless experience, and if somebody comes up with “Aha! I see you did that” we suspect being a little heavy handed in the craft. If your character might as well be wearing a sign that reads plot device around his neck, then something needs to be done with him.
Considering I’ve just come off a reading binge (for the sake of research, mind you), this topic is still rattling around in my head. Maybe I’ll take a break and grab a bowl of cereal, and you know I’ll read the back of the box … Aha! I see they did that….”