. . . of disbelief. This is a key to reading fantasy, science fiction, and maybe a bunch of other stuff as well. We, as readers, are asked by the authors to believe that there is one ring to rule them all, one ring to bind them . . . a castle in the heart of England that is a school for wizarding children, that dragons exist and can communicate telepathically, and so much other stuff.
We, as readers, suspend our disbelief as we immerse ourselves in these fantastical and fabulous, sometimes quite ordinary, worlds created by some of the great writers of our time, times well before our own, and times yet to come. We, while immersed in the words of these writers, believe in telepathic dragons, magic rings, and boy wizards.
I also believe there is a fine line between suspension of disbelief and out and out what the heck moments. I'm not sure it is a line writers should cross, unless the book is totally tongue in cheek.
As with the conflict appearing on Page 141 of the book I just finished reading on Wednesday, there were quite a few moments where my suspension of disbelief just didn't hold. There were things the main character did that, well, uh, just didn't make sense. No person of that age - at least no person I've known or read about - would do what this person did. At that point, I disconnected a bit from the story.
I don't think we need to disconnect from the stories we are reading and we certainly don't want our future readers to disconnect from the stories we are writing. The immersion into our brilliance needs to be as complete as possible without suddenly jarring moments that disconnect the reader.
So, if I'm reading an epic fantasy novel and one of the main characters is a 7 year old, well, I want that character to act like a 7 year old and not a 27 year old. Yes, I've read a book like that where the thoughts and actions of a 7 year old were, well, far too adult. There was a disconnect. 7 year olds, at least the ones I've known, were not capable of what the 7 year old in this book was capable of doing. D-I-S-C-O-N-N-E-C-T!
As writers we need to remember that suspension of disbelief only goes so far. We must not, so I believe, cross the line so that the readers can no longer suspend their disbelief.
Question: have you ever been disconnected from a story because of the actions of a character? Has a character every done something that just didn't make sense? Do you just blithely ignore these disconnects? Do you - like me - pause for a moment, furrow your brow, and then continue reading? Am I the only one inspired by these disconnects, the break in suspension of disbelief, to write a blog post devoted to the subject?
Update: on my work in progress, as of Wednesday evening (I'm pre-writing this post), I only have one chapter left to finish. Woo-hoo!!!