Suspend Disbelief


How important to you is it that the stories you read make perfect sense? Are you one of those nitpickers who read a book and think “they never could have gotten there in time” or “oooh sure, she just happened to be turning the corner when he was about to give up on ever finding her”? Do you find you can’t stomach fantasy or sci-fi stories? That a paranormal tale is ludicrous because there are no such thing as werewolves and vampires?

In my opinion, when it comes to fiction, one needs to be able to suspend disbelief in order to really enjoy a story. That’s not to say if you’re reading a contemporary romance and an alien comes down and swoops up the villain, that you shouldn’t be all annoyed thinking “WTF is going on here?!”  I’m talking about the little things, like timing and the fact that someone didn’t suffer the right kind of kickback from using a specific kind of gun. Well, I’m talking the big things too, like dragons and fae and whatnot, but if you’re picking up those books to read, you’re already suspending your disbelief.

People need to remember fiction is fiction and the author controls the story. While outcomes may seem unlikely or fantastical, they are written for entertainment purposes. They’re written knowing the reader will have to just play along for the sake of a good story.

Have you ever read anything that was so unbelievable that you couldn’t take it? Did you have to put it down without finishing it or did you suffer through just to get to the end?  I have one book that comes to mind (which I won’t mention). I did finish it and then I reviewed it discussing its flaws.  That’s not to say I didn’t mention the good parts, because I think even the worst book can have a redeeming quality in there somewhere.  Sometimes you want to believe, you want to enjoy the story, but the author pushes things so far that it’s just not possible. Thankfully, I haven’t run across that situation too often. Hopefully things will remain that way.


4 responses »

  1. You make an interesting point. If readers did suspend disbelief more than they generally do, one of the main flaws of my first novel would fly under the radar. I hesitate to say I wish they would, though, because a flaw is a flaw. I think it’s better to recognize it and either fix it in the story in question or at least try not to make the same mistake again.

    Then again, it’s frustrating because I’ll feel like I covered my bases, but it’s not enough for some readers. Sigh.

    • Well, there’s always going to be someone who feels they have to nitpick, but so long as it’s not totally insane a reader should be able to go with it.

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