NaBloPoMo Post #28
Suspension of Disbelief is defined by Wikipedia as “a formula for justifying the use of fantastic or non-realistic elements in literary works of fiction. It was put forth in English by the poet and aesthetic philosopher Samuel Taylor Coleride who suggested that if a writer could infuse a "human interest and a semblance of truth" into a fantastic tale, the reader would suspend judgment concerning the implausibility of the narrative.”
It is often up to the reader to “suspend disbelief” so they can immerse themselves into a story and overlook certain fantastical aspects.
However, is is also up to the writer to help the reader to be able to do that. The writer has to wrap her story, no matter how fantastic, in something realistic and believable in order for the reader to accept it as possible. If there are aspects in the story that the reader can identify with from his own life and surroundings, it will be easier to accept that something somewhat different and unusual might in fact take place within that more common surrounding.
There are many aspects of TV shows and movies that ask the viewer to suspend disbelief, even in stories that are not fantasy or sci-fi in nature. Sometimes it’s small things, like the fact that a pregnancy test does not turn positive within 3 seconds of peeing on it (like it did on Walking Dead) or the fact that medical or forensic results are not available within hours of the test being done or crime being comitted. But there’s limited amount of time and content to be fit into a show or a movie, and so things like that are necessary to move the plot along without making a movie last hours or days.
In fiction, it is up to the writer to make the reader believe that something is possible that doesn’t seem plausible. The way to do that is to place the reader into a familiar surrounding, include details that are familiar and that will immerse the reader into the world. Then the writer presents a fantastical aspect by either saying outright that this is not a regular occurance in that world or by letting the reader discover that himself.
One of the most important aspects for the writer to remember here is to be consistent about her world and the details. If there’s inconsistencies throughout the story, it will instantly put the reader on alert and he will treat the rest of the story with a sense of caution or suspicion, and possible disbelief.