Two philosophers were walking down the street when they passed between two houses. The owners of the two houses were arguing with each other from open 2nd floor windows. One philosopher told the other, “They’ll never resolve their argument.” The second one asked, “Why?” The answer was, “They’re arguing from different premises.”
How many readers assumed that the philosophers were both men? I didn’t specify gender. It’s funny how we make assumptions based on our own ‘premises’. Readers do the same, so as writers, we need to set expectations and define premises in ways that advance our stories without confusing our readers. (He says, having been guilty of confusing readers through his close personal involvement in his writing.)
Just because it’s clear to you doesn’t mean your readers will follow it in the way you meant it. The take home part: be aware of your reader and back away enough to see their point of view.
I find that I get better at this, the more stories I write. (Or at least I think I’m getting better.)
It’s been said that you have to devote 10,000 hours to become an expert in anything. I hope this doesn’t directly convert to books. I don’t think I can write 10,000 novels 🙂