Created By: YeOldeLuke on June 13, 2013 Last Edited By: YeOldeLuke on June 14, 2013

Don't Read What You Know

You know more about your job than an author does

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So you're on the bus, heading to your job as a lightbulb filament repairman. On the way, you see a billboard advertising a new book by your absolute favorite author. A quick Smart Phone search reveals his new book stars a lightbulb filament repairman! Wow, your life's work AND your favorite author! This is going to be amazing!

You buy a first edition from the bookstore down the street during your lunch break and that night settle down in your couch and start reading.

...What??? Did the main character just straighten a filament without sterilizing his equipment first? Why didn't he check the make of the lightbulb with any sort of database? Did this author do any research about this career at all??

Well, it turns out he might have, but he's still not going to know more than you do. Unless he's Writing What he Knows, he's just learned enough to tell a story, and story takes precedence over realism. Also, most of his readers (unlike you) know nothing about lightbulb filament repair, and so these errors go unnoticed by them.

This refers to the tendency of dissapointment by people when they read a work about something where they are more qualified about the subject matter than the author. Compare with Dan Browned, where any audience member can quickly realize what they're reading is false, without insider knowledge.
Community Feedback Replies: 10
  • June 13, 2013
    This seems like it'd just be a YMMV (since it's an audience reaction) version of Dan Browned.
  • June 13, 2013
    Dan Browned does not imply the audience member has any sort of inside knowledge. In fact the page states that Dan Browned means "it's child's play to find errors of fact" in the work. In this example, a regular person would not see anything wrong with the work, but a professional or aficionado would. I added a sentence about Dan Browned to emphasize the difference.
  • June 13, 2013
    This is the page quote from Cowboy Bebop At His Computer.
    Everything you read in the newspapers is absolutely true except for that rare story of which you happen to have firsthand knowledge.
    -Erwin Knoll
  • June 14, 2013
    Is this Didnt Do The Research, But More Specific?

    PS, fix the red link please.
  • June 14, 2013
    This isn't a trope.
  • June 14, 2013
    We already got a ton of tropes about authors not doing their research (not to mention all the Artistic License tropes). As far as I can see, this is just complaining about how the author didn't research my job.
  • June 14, 2013
    I think this is like one we already have, called, I think Outside Joke. Edited to add: Yes, you might want to look at that page.
  • June 14, 2013
    ^ Outside Joke's description is extremely specitic. I suggest we expand the trope to include this as well, and phrase it in such a way as to not invite whining and complaining (in fact,let's also explicitly discourage it). In-Universe examples only, and so on.

    And if they say "it's child's play to find the mistakes in Dan Browned", that simply means the description needs to be corrected.Dan Browned is specifically about the author fooling non-initaties into believing they did lots of awesome research. Dan Brown is especially guilty of this because his descriptions are vivid and lifelike; he really makes you feel like you're there, even while he completely messes up how "there" actually is.

    Plus, that phrase implies that if you can't tell the author's making a mistake, you're an idiot, and we can't have that.
  • June 14, 2013
    The Dan Browned page doesn't claim aything like that at all. The only part where that phrase comes up is in the end:

    "Named after (of course) Dan Brown, who (as the page quote should make painfully clear) is rather fond of asserting that most of the stuff that goes into his thrillers is actually true. Even though it's child's play to find errors of fact in them."

    Both the description and laconic make it perfectly clear that the trope is about the author making claims that are not true.
  • June 14, 2013
    Tiffany Aching runs into this (combined with The Simple Life Is Simple) when she reads some romance novels where the heroine is on a farm, and does absolutely nothing to keep the farm going.