Okay, I had to write this post after just watching The Dark Knight Rises.
And yea, I know it's a superhero movie, which means we're to check our suspension of disbelief as a viewer at the door as soon as we walk into the theater or open the book, but seriously, at some point your brain wakes up and screams, "This simply can't be happening! I've paid good money for this and you want me to believe this load of bull-puckey?"
Then that same little nagging voice says to you that although this is pretty good, that although the character arcs are decent, the plot can simply never ever really happen in real life, and it is at that precise moment that the viewer or reader is forever lost.
For me, that particular moment came when Bane, the super-villain revealed his over-reaching goals and takes over Gotham City and holds its citizens hostage. Now I understand Gotham is supposed to be part of the U.S.A., but seriously, would America let a massive city the size of New York fall to a crappy terrorist wearing a stupid mask? I think not.
|Suspension of disbelief is the norm in fantasy worlds where evil overlords like Darth rule the galaxy.|
You see, my thoughts on suspension of disbelief are subtle. I want to believe throughout the whole film or book that the plot could happen. Could is the operative word here folks. This imho, applies to almost every genre except perhaps high fantasy where the story world is completely fictional (think DUNE).
But the whole story concept actually exposed to me an even bigger flaw and another error that I must recognize as a writer, and that was the fact the main character, the dark dude himself~ Batman, is confined to Gotham City. It's like a prison without walls for the masked marauder who rarely leaves Gotham (except in this film where he really leaves Gotham and is sent to a prison.)
However I hope that the screenwriters will realize this flaw and have him break out of his little Gotham-cocoon and interact with the rest of the world, because if Batman is released into the world, then the wilder plots can be embraced, thus giving suspension of disbelief a little nod. A small token of writerly respect, if you will, and maybe a tip from a Bond villain might exemplify this concept.
|I always wanted to rename Blofeld "CrazyEye".|
But know how far to take things...or else you end up with this kind of scene. Know where to draw the line between fact, fiction.
So what did we learn today?
- We must artistically harness the power of the suspension of disbelief, but respect that power in knowing where to draw the line. Don't take the power for granted.
- Create characters who can move about freely in a story world. Freeing the character gives the writer more wiggle room and larger scope. Allows us more leniency in the area of suspension of disbelief.
- When we give the aura to our readers that the plot could indeed happen somehow, we give them room for thought and for discussion. That creates fans and readers. We want both.
A good book or film that respects the notion of suspense of disbelief will be the one that's talked about nonstop around thousands of water coolers the next Monday morning after it's release.
Respect this subtle power and we create art.
It's the simple stuff that we must keep in mind when writing, and while I'm guilty of this, I definitely plan to learn from my mistakes.
So take it from a friend, when writing we need to keep that simple concept of suspension of disbelief carefully in check. But don't give up hope if your manuscript's antagonist, an evil villain that plans on taking over the world, that can be okay. He or she need not be written out or the entire story scrapped, but what it does mean is you should weave in ways the plot could actually happen.
Later on here we'll talk about the insertion of info-fauxmation (what I like to call fake but plausible information) to make your subtle twists in plot blur the line between fact and fiction to make your story plausible, but for now we're just going to respect suspension of disbelief.
Let's hear from you:
What elements in your manuscript make the reader/audience engage in suspension of disbelief? But be careful in answering this last question folks, because it's the most disgusting, jagged little pill as a writer you'll ever swallow, but tell me how and why your reader be able to move past the point of no return in the plot, where they must decide if they can truly believe what you've written and keep turning pages?