When I’m reading a good book, I’m usually willing to suspend disbelief—that is, accept something implausible—if the story or film has prepared me properly. Shootouts both contemporary and historical are exciting and I’m willing to believe the bad guys will miss hitting the good guys while the good guys can aim once and hit their target (something a recent news story proved implausible in reality). I’m already cheering for the good guys, and if they’re as heroic as their character has been portrayed, of course they’ll be a great shot!
When I’m writing a story, I try to pay close attention to this element. I don’t want to ask my readers to suspend disbelief, I want them to be so fully immersed in the story they won’t stop to question whether or not the action is plausible or not. I’ve found the best way to avoid the eye-roll from readers is by preparing the field, so to speak. If my reclusive hero is going to involve himself in society, I’d better bring him along slowly enough to have the reader believing it could happen.
I think as a reader I’m more willing to accept the extraordinary if everything supporting this potentially unbelievable aspect is working. The full saying goes “suspending disbelief for the sake of entertainment.” So if I’m being entertained, I can overlook things that might be stretching reality just a bit.
There are certain personalities this doesn’t work for, though. My husband is one of those! When we watch a movie together, even one we both acknowledge was great, he’ll bring up later where the plot points or credibility factor was lacking. To which I just shrug and remind him about suspending disbelief . . .
So how about you? Are you okay with suspending disbelief if you’re being entertained? Is there a limit on how much you can accept? For me, if I’m loving the storyline or the characters, I’m more willing to let little details go unnoticed or not bother me. What, if anything, lets you do that?
Something to think about the next time you’re enjoying a good book or movie!