I've discovered that, in general, I am more willing to follow unbelievable (to me) emotions than events. Of course, sometimes emotions and events overlap a great deal. For example, I'll never forget the episode of Little House on the Prairie in which Mary Ingalls does not take her baby with her when she and her friend (whose name I do forget) evacuate children from a fire, instead leaving it to her friend to escape with her baby. I am so not the type to get up and scream at the TV set, but I'm pretty sure that time I did. As a young mother myself, I knew with every fiber of my being that Mary would have and should have simply taken her baby from the other woman's arms and then rounded up the rest of the kids. The only reason she didn't was because the plot called for the baby and the other woman to perish in the fire. The implausible action, supposedly fueled by the off-kilter emotion, spoiled the episode for me.
But plenty of times, I've read books in which I part company with the MC due strictly to her emotion in a certain scene: I buy what's happening, but I would not respond/react the same way at all. I realize that has seldom been a deal-breaker for me in the same way that implausible actions can be. My response to unbelievable emotion tends to fall into one of these categories:
- I "should" feel more like the MC does instead of the way I actually do feel. Now isn't that interesting? And there may well be some truth to this, especially when the MC is taking the high road and I'd much prefer to tell somebody where to get off. In other words, when the MC is less angry than I.
- Precisely because of the above, I don't give up on the story because it has aroused so much emotion. Hey, I'm even more worked up than the MC is!
- I've parted company with the MC only in that scene, not for the whole book, so I'm still invested.
- I figure the MC and I are different people, and I signed on to read this book so that I may walk in her experience for a time. If the MC comes alive, which she should, why would I agree with her every step of the way?