Some of you may know I’m overseas at the moment, far from the sunny shores of Queensland. When we’re way we tend to prefer to base ourselves in a city, rent an apartment and take day trips from there. Usually that works just fine but sometimes it’s not as good as it might have seemed. Of course, we book accommodation before we leave and we base our decision on the internet, checking the pictures – and the reviews.
It doesn’t always work out as we’d like, though. What you see isn’t always what you get. A pretty apartment which seems to have everything may be lacking. In this case, it lacked fundamentals – for example the bedroom had no drawers to put your clothes in and the wardrobe had only four coat hangers for the two of us; towel rails, hooks or shelves were absent from the bathroom and there was no lid to the rubbish bin. Just looking at the folder left for guests betrayed the lack of care and attention to detail. The pages had been printed on an inkjet printer and the print was smudged and difficult to read. There was no reference to how to connect to the internet. The ‘it’ll do’ attitude sprang off the pages and the apartment itself came over as a display unit, intended to lure purchasers, not to be lived in.
It’s a lesson for writers, too. Readers want something to get their teeth into, a world that seems real, not a painted, two-dimensional surface. As a reader, I appreciate detail, little bits and pieces that assure me the world I’m reading about isn’t a bland facade, that it’s a real place where people can actually live. For my own books I try to ensure the presentation is as good as I can make it – no typos, accurate grammar, good layout.
It’s a lesson in life. Present what you’d expect to receive.