On Suspending Disbelief Posted by Maureen Lang


Image from Bing Free Images and originally seen on suspension of disbelief | Systems Savvy

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!


About Maureen Lang

Author of a dozen novels, Maureen Lang has won the Selah Award, a Holt Medallion, FHL's Reader's Choice Award, and been a finalist in such contests as the Christy, the Rita, the Carol, Book Buyer's Best, and others. Before publication she was the recipient of a Golden Heart and a Genesis (then called the Noble Theme). She resides with her husband and kids in the Chicago area. Titles by Maureen Lang All In Good Time Bees In The Butterfly Garden Springtime Of The Spirit Whisper On The Wind Look To The East My Sister Dilly On Sparrow Hill The Oak Leaves Remember Me Pieces Of Silver
This entry was posted in Maureen Lang, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to On Suspending Disbelief Posted by Maureen Lang

  1. bethrachg says:

    I have to make a conscious effort anymore to suspense disbelief since becoming a writer because the internal editor wants to step in. I’m sure you can relate. 🙂 Often things hit me after the movie and I’ll point them out to my husband, so it can take some of the enjoyment out of watching. I think readers and movie-goers are “smarter” these days as well and don’t so easily swallow things. Of course in movies, they jump to a scene without any explanation of how they got there and as a writer, i’m thinking I’d have to explain that in a book and it wouldn’t work! LOL

    But all that said, I’m happy to suspend the disbelief move of the time. Let’s enjoy things.


    • Maureen Lang says:

      How true that readers and movie-goers these days are less willing to swallow unbelievable things! I love old movies but I know with many of them I have to remind myself audiences came a bit more willing to just be entertained and not worry about the little stuff. I guess we’re more discriminating these days, but somehow I find that sad. It’s a good lesson to make sure everything is working so well that the entertainment value won’t be lost if the little moments of suspended disbelief can be overlooked, though.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s