Suspension of disbelief is a marvelous thing. It makes possible our immersion into fantastic realms where wizards fly and griffins sling fireballs ... wait, reverse that. It even operates in other genres, allowing us to believe in the amateur sleuth in the mystery, or that Carrie Bradshaw really can live in that apartment with *all those shoes* as a writer ... ahem.
But the tiniest little thing can break it.
Especially when discussing film and television versions of speculative fiction, people often give side eye to those questioning details. Many of you will recognize this example: "You have no trouble believing in the walking dead, dragons and decades-long winters, but you get hung up on the speed of a raven?"
Well ... yes, I do.
Don't worry, I'm not getting further into that specific debate here, just using it as an example: the details matter. In fact, the more fantastic, the more bizarre the assumptions of the setting, the more accurate and plausible the mundane details have to be.
It's a matter of trust: the reader (or viewer) has to trust the writer and the story they are being told. If the things the reader is familiar with are right, or at least seem right, that builds the writer some capital, which they can "spend" on the fantastic. The tricky thing, of course, is that every person has a different tolerance level ... a different amount in their suspension-of-disbelief bank account, if you will. Some people will buy anything you want to sell them. Others are actively looking for flaws. And, of course, people who already read and enjoy speculative fiction are far more likely to accept a fantastic premise without a solid trust framework.
As a writer, I happen to like playing with the details. I like to make things consistent and cohesive behind the scenes, even if the rationale behind specific worldbuilding elements is never made explicit in the text. I pay some attention to climate zones and the influence of geography on trade.
One particular small detail I admit I tend to be obsessed with: calendars! To me, using our world's calendar verbatim breaks my immersion; the names of the months, for instance, are so grounded in our mythos and culture. But how else do you mark days, months and years without confusing the reader or forcing them to learn a slew of unnecessary details?
But that's off the point, and probably an entire blog post on its own. In conclusion: yes, I am hung up on the speed of a raven. The mundane details matter.
Word count this week: 2,924
Pages edited: 5.5
Poems edited: 1
(I'm starting to get adjusted to my new work schedule. Hopefully productivity will continue to increase here.)
January 25, 2022
Creativity and Inspiration
January 4, 2022