So this is my first discussion post. I probably won’t have many discussion posts because, quite simply, I don’t usually have discussion-type ideas. But I did come up with a discussion post idea!!!!
Yeah, I’m pretty excited. Anyway, I was reading some paranormal/supernatural books recently, and I got to thinking about what I can suspend my disbelief for, and what I can’t.
You all probably know what suspension of disbelief means, but just in case, I will try to explain it. Dictionary.com defines suspension of disbelief as
“a willingness to suspend one’s critical faculties and believe the unbelievable; sacrifice of realism and logic for the sake of enjoyment.”
Basically what that means is that we, as readers (or tv/movie watchers, etc) are willing to read a book, and be completely invested in the characters and the plot even when it involves things that aren’t real (or things that wouldn’t happen realistically). So, for example, I willingly suspended my disbelief while reading Harry Potter. I was invested (and seriously so freaking worried) about Harry Potter as he continually fought against Voldemort. And by doing this, I was able to dive into the story, and love it like crazy. I felt all the feels.
There are those books where I am completely able to suspend my disbelief. I don’t care that the book has magic, vampires, ghosts, spirits, witches, etc. Somehow the fantastical elements and the characters and the plot all come together perfectly.
But then there are the books that don’t just sit right with me. I absolutely love fantasy and paranormal books. They are so much fun, and sometimes I get so stressed for the characters, even though they aren’t real. When I start a book, I am all set to jump on board with the characters, and the story. I might even start out thinking yes I’m with you! And then . . .
Something will happen, and I just can’t buy it. And once I can’t buy something, it takes me right out of the book. I am not invested in the characters, and the plot will sort of fall apart for me. And I’m all . . .
I go into a book wanting to love it. I’m willing to believe, but the author couldn’t convince me. AND IT’S SO FRUSTRATING!! Then I break out the eye-rolls and the “oh, puh-leases!” and it all goes down hill from there.
So where’e the line? When does something go from being magical and amazing, to ridiculous and unbelievable?
I’m sure it’s different for everyone, but I thought I would break down what’s important to me.
- Characters – I think this is the absolutely most important aspect for me being able to suspend my disbelief. In fact, I’m willing to suspend my disbelief on more things in a book, if the characters are fantastic. Let’s talk Harry Potter for example. I think JK Rowling is amazing at world-building. But would HP have been as popular as it was if the characters hadn’t been so well-developed? If those wizards and witches didn’t experience the same emotions that we, the readers, experience, would we have cared what happened to Harry, Ron and Hermione? I doubt I would. JK Rowling was able to create such amazing, fully fleshed-out characters, where I felt like they were real people. No one was perfect; they all made mistakes. And sure, they had magical powers, but I felt that if you took out all the magical bits of the story, these characters would still feel real. And although I loved all the magic in HP, I probably would have loved HP even if there wasn’t this amazing, magical world.
- Logistics – In whatever magical world has been created, whether it be a high-fantasy world, or our world with a few paranormal creatures, or even a realistic setting but with an few outrageousnesses (like a teen spy, for example), it has to make sense. I’m willing to believe in different fantastical elements, but those elements have to make sense, and there has to be a reason for them. Throwing all sorts of special powers into a book shows your creativity, but doesn’t make a story great. Let’s talk Snow White and the Huntsman (yes, I know that’s a movie, but go with me here). Sure the visuals where gorgeous. The big white stag thing was beautiful and watching it burst into a whole bunch of butterflies was cool. But what purpose was that for the story? What was the point? And how come a certain character was able to “wake” Snow White up? It was never even discussed in the film. This was definitely one of the reasons the movie was a let down for me.
- Lack of Convenience – I hate when I’m reading a book, and the main characters are able to solve whatever issue they have because certain things are just conveniently there. For example, I just read a paranormal YA book, and towards the end the male lead was stabbed in the chest. But it just so happened that a women with the power to heal anyone was there, so she was able to save him. I mean, that was just way too convenient for me. Why was she there? She wasn’t mentioned at all during the rest of the book. And more importantly, why was he stabbed in the first place? Because that didn’t make all much that sense, either (which falls into the logistics category).