the reader mistaking a character's mistake for the author's mistake.
That one's crossed my mind when deliberately going for the Unreliable Narrator
or just a character that's plain wrong/uneducated/misinformed. Or they're just plain "not infallible" - nothing wrong at all with having a brilliant chemist who, to use the above example, thinks a Nokia is Japanese.
And it shouldn't have to be "corrected" by some other character (or the author/narrator) at all.
I don't feel I should have to "show they're wrong" in story to hammer home that they are wrong to the readers, nor should I have to stick with blatant examples (e.g. the character of Birling in J.B. Priestley's An Inspector Calls
, set in 1912, saying that there's never going to be a war as we're "too advanced" for such things and citing the fact that they've just built a completely unsinkable ship
as proof of his assertation).
I should be able to put in something subtle that perhaps not everyone would know and have those who do
know twig that it's the character
, not the author, who's got it wrong.
Frankly, I'd like those who spotted it to feel good about spotting a subtle clue that the character's not as good as (s)he thinks (s)he is.
Especially when putting in a number of bits of misinformation that are completely irrelevant to the plot (and therefore do not need to have the character discover (s)he's wrong about them) to establish that the character "don't know everything" prior to having them spout some bit of misinformation that is
plot relevant and bites them on the arse later in the story.
Frankly, I'd be appalled if I spent time and effort in Act 1 subtly sowing seeds of doubt on the character's infallibility, to foreshadow the big stinger and have their misinformation or lack of knowledge seriously impact them halfway through Act 2, only to have the reader's put down the book halfway through the first act because "that fucking stupid author doesn't know dick about such-and-such".
I think that if I saw a review to that effect of one of my works (or of some work I'd read and the author had done the same thing), I'd be moved to write a scathing reply along the lines of "read the whole book before commenting, you retard."
edited 4th Feb '13 12:27:30 PM by Wolf1066