Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Writing Wednesday---Suspending Disbelief

According to Suspending disbelief is:  a willingness to suspend one's critical faculties and believe the unbelievable; sacrifice of realism and logic for the sake of enjoyment 

In my newest book, The Birthday Wish, Mimi blows out a candle that she's jammed into a frozen cupcake, makes a wish, and is transported to the home of Paolo, where she spends an evening having her wishes and fantasies fulfilled. 

As a writer I had to ask myself, how far is too far? How much will readers suspend disbelief and go along with my premise that a birthday wish, or two, could physically transport my heroine from place to place within a fantasy world and then return her to her own life at the end. 

How much did I need to explain? 

Mimi was clearly a real person (whether Paolo is or not, you'll have to buy the book to find out) who had real feelings and anxieties even within a surreal situation. 

I think we all like to think that magical and mysterious things can happen, so I decided to simply rely on the power of a good birthday wish to propel the story along. 

How about you? How much are you willing to suspend disbelief? What are some elements that are just too much? 


  1. Celeste,
    I think that this depends on how well you write and how believable your characters are.
    As a lifelong bibliophile, in my opinion any fantasy can be believable as long as the characters are three dimensional.

  2. I agree with what Paul said. And as long as I can relate to the characters, I'm usually happy, no matter how much I must suspend disbelief along the way. :)

  3. First of all, were wooden spoons involved? Second, how about water jugs? ;)

    I'm ok with a story that's not believable as long as it doesn't take itself too seriously. Or, if it's a story that takes itself seriously, I want the major issues to be believable.

  4. I love fantasy! It is liberating to suspend belief and let a story massage your senses.
    But... you knew that right?

  5. There is really no problem with suspension of disbelief on this scale. Some genres by their very nature demand it going in, for example, sci-fi, ghost stories, and alternative history tales. But, there are two considerations. First, the fantasy world doesn't need much explanation regarding the physics of how such a thing could happen, but there must be rules that appear to be internally consistent. Remember the movie "Big" with Tom Hanks? Or "Back to the Future"? Second, and this is the most important part, people have to act in a manner consistent with their culture and values. Human nature doesn't change just because the physical reality did. In this genre of spanking fiction the author must still justify the spanking scene to make it believable, even in an altered reality.

  6. Different genres have different "rules." The rules are far stricter for mainstream contemporary fiction than for fantasy, science fiction or paranormal. No one really believes a fairy godmother transformed a pumpkin into a coach, but we suspend our disbelief for that story.

  7. Excellent post, Celeste.

    If I've fallen in love with the characters, and will follow them anywhere and the story is completely engrossing, there isn't anything I wouldn't suspend including my belief :) It's all in the execution!

  8. Interesting post, Celeste,

    I believe anything is possible. Supernatural things happen every day, so why shouldn't they happen in fiction also. As long as the characters have depth, dimension and justification, I'll pretty much let anything slide and just go with the flow of the story :)

  9. Thanks for a great discussion everyone. I agree that if I like a character, I'll believe about anything that happens. That's a good point to remember.

  10. I'm VERY willing depending on the genre (sci-fi, for example). If the story seems plausible until half way through, then starts to get ridiculous, I have trouble with that (can you tell I'm reading one of those now?) Great timing with this post, I must say.


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