This week, I want to ask you writers and readers about believability.
I was recently workshopping a story set here in Mexico, where two cab drivers get in a fist fight and one ends up with a broken nose. They calm down and the nosebreaker sets his opponent’s nose. This tripped several readers up, because the story didn’t state facts that I took for granted. First, the wait for medical attention at a government run hospital here can be very long, so setting your nose on the street makes perfect sense; second, that most working class Mexican men know how to set a nose, even their own, if necessary; and finally, that honor among adversaries is not too uncommon here. Two Mexicans read the story and didn’t say a thing about that part.
My question is this: how can a writer make the reader believe without using the dreaded info-dump? My thinking is that this is problematic in narrative as well as dialog. As a reader, how much do you want explained to you, and how?
I look forward to any insight here.