Horror Factor - Suspending Disbelief

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Suspending Disbelief by Vicki Hinze What does a writer do when a novel contains an element that requires a serious suspension of disbelief? How exactly does the writer incorporate that element so that the reader buys into the premise? The element itself goes a long way toward helping the writer decide the best means for incorporating it. All storytelling, in some way or another, requires a suspension of disbelief. Writers must convince the reader that the characters are real people, that the events the writer says are happening are events that

only that if you do. possible. Texas. Example: Ice communities. In Maine. and the writer taps into them. cities. this is done through the observations and testimonies of secondary characters. and you want the reader to believe it. which gives the illusion that his/her setting is real because it mirrors similar known places. and goals. It'd be a freak of nature to occur in Florida unless the writer prepared a foundation that made it possible. testing them for plausibility and testing the events to assure the reader that they are a natural outgrowth of the preceding novel events as those events relate to these specific characters. We convince readers characters are real by giving them attributes typical of many people: Appearances. but for moments. We convince readers story settings are real by anchoring our settings. that the place where this story occurs is a real place. and others hit the reader with the unusual element straight out. giving details common to similar places. These common bonds. she could hold back time. Small towns. . Blessing or curse. suburbs all have rhythms. which means they can relate to them. Not forever. details.could happen. The direct method is one where the writer states a bald fact. you'd better have the characters set up one for a specific reason that is essential to the plot. emotions. But I haven't seen or heard of one New Orleans for many. attitudes. and apt to occur. or s/he doesn't. It's widely accepted as fact that a reader believes what one character says to another far more readily than the reader believes what an author says to them. Now that doesn't mean you ice cream social in New Orleans. and spiritual. universal emotions (ones we can all understand) and unique traits that single them out as individuals. this would be plausible. and these events and these characters are apt to happen and to be in this place. assists in making characters "real. and the reader either jumps on board and believes. Some writers use indirect methods for gaining the suspension of disbelief. many years. How do we do that for a novel without an atypical or unusual element? In a word. related through details. definite ways of life. occurring in can't use an cream socials are still popular in small towns and rural like Calallen. An example: Direct Method." We convince readers that events are real by using details. An extreme example: A writer wouldn't write a horrendous snow storm in Florida. Then readers have things in common with characters. Three-dimensions: physical. Often. motivations. and to pile on proof (details) that the unusual element is fact. emotional. The indirect method is to slowly build a case for the suspension.

the reader. Do you really expect this court to believe that this woman. Okay. If she'd developed it later in life. Note that there are those who consider a freak because she has this gift.) Lastly. holding back time wasn't anything unusual and everyone could do it. The writer doesn't tell you how. Then the bus moved again. Then that Ms. that s admittedly rough writing on the example front. too. and she--" Millie pointed to Amanda "--dipped down her chin and stared at it. Crass. the defendant Amanda Slade. and these oh-so-normal events do help us to suspend disbelief because they mix the known and normal with the unknown. "You did swear to tell the truth. St. then there probably would need to be an explanation of the inciting incident to encourage the reader to suspend disbelief. So. The bus was barreling down on him. and that bus froze right where it was. and protecting another from harm is completely universal. much later that she discovered they couldn't. Her grandmother Slade had been different and Amanda had no desire to be different. can hold back time?" "Believe what you will. where he'd be safe. or even noticed. We can relate and identify. A candle on her birthday cake had tipped over and threatened to burn her favorite cousin. Now. moved Carly's hand. Slade hurried on over and moved the man back onto the curb. At fifteen. That man--" she pointed to a man sitting behind the defendant "--ought to be dead and he ain't. She still remembered the nauseating shock of discovering that. (Perceptions that tug at the emotions are powerful proofs of reality. Birthday cakes are relatively universal. or why. one thing I want you to notice. Germain. Carly. But that night the night she made her shocking. She just dumps the way things are out there and you. and then watched the candle fall into the frosting. the confusion and then fear. or do much explaining really though she might or might not later on in the book. Holding back time is the curse/ blessing. can accept or reject them. notice the birthday cake and how she used the gift. icy fear. Cold. Note that she's had this gift since she was a little girl. Amanda had thought time into stopping. which allows for conflict and uncertainty. she had learned the gift that had helped her save Carly from a bad scar would now be the curse that killed her and there was nothing Amanda could do to stop it. diluting the abnormality in them. An Example: Indirect Method. People are mean to you when you re different. sickening discovery that she was exactly like Grandmother Slade Billy Manson had drowned and Amanda became known as the freak of Carlson County. Amanda had supposed. Isn't it something we have all wished we could do at some time or another? And it can be used for good or bad. "I saw what I saw and I know what I know. Mr. but it s off the top of my head yet I think it covers the point. Germain narrowed her gaze on the stuffy prosecutor. No one had said anything.Amanda discovered she had the gift at age three. it's horn still blowing and its brakes still squealing and spitting smoke . Mrs." Millie St. It wasn't until much.

Both methods are effective and either is acceptable." Again. anything direct. And to convince the reader the element is real. Millie acts as a commentator. you simply incorporate proof in the form of details. I reckon you ought to take it up with God and not me. This 589-page ebook covers everything you need to know about the craft of writing. S/he relates what s/he wants us to know through the characters interactions with each other. "Course. © Copyright Vicki Hinze. Dr. online. Her latest non-fiction book is ALL ABOUT WRITING TO SELL. it isn't only suspending disbelief that you must do here. To do it effectively you simply must convince the reader that the element is real. All Rights Reserved.up the street. rough writing but I think you get the point. since He's in charge of handing out special gifts and I ain't. from Spilled Candy Books for Writers. the publishing business. best-selling author who routinely shares her expertise at national writers' conferences. and through her writing guides. It's a gift and she doesn't second guess gifts." "And why do you suppose you weren't frozen. I doubt that's all together the truth of it. Regardless. since you're here being foolish anyhow. spirituality (frank. I'm just saying what was. I ain't of a mind to question what God does or don't do. and if you object. "I ain't saying what the lady did or didn't do. the readers. As with almost anything else in writing. too?" "I couldn't say. ALL ABOUT WRITING TO SELL . He gave Ms. See how her emotions. Remember. Maybe the good Lord knew there'd be a fool like you questioning a miracle and He sent me to keep you from making an idiot of yourself. We suspend disbelief because Millie saw and believes and is a blunt and forthright person. and the secrets to getting published. This is where you let loose your creativity and try both to see which works hardest for your story. snooty prosecutor and since Millie considers the gifted Amanda a lady--we readers are more apt to ally ourselves with her and her perceptions than with the prosecutor. You must maintain that suspension of disbelief through the course of the novel. some stories are better served by one or the other. Note in this method that the writer doesn't tell us." She sniffed and looked down her nose at him. Vicki Hinze is an award-winning. a relater who has seen this unusual gift in action and shares her perception of it and of the characters." Millie lifted her chin high enough to park a teacup on it. forthright) all play into this? We are more willing to believe because she believes. Slade the power to stop time and save that man's life. So through her and her reaction--since we like her and we don't like the pushy. That's the way of it.

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