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View Full Version : Suspension of Disbelief- what are your limits?



LordMoogi
05-13-2010, 06:47 PM
Obviously, the key to enjoying fiction (either reading or writing) is being able to suspend disbelief. But everyone has different standards that they stick to. An unbelievable stretch for one person is acceptable for another. So, what kind of limits do you have? How far does a story have to go to break your immersion?

Me, I have a very elastic suspension of disbelief. I base it on several factors:

* Genre- Obviously, a guy who can fly would be out of place in a contemporary drama, but he'd fit in easily in a superhero story. Similarly, when dealing with speculative fiction, the importance of scientific accuracy is inversely proportionate to the amount of fantasy in the setting. So, 'hard' SF should adhere as closely to real science as possible, while Star Wars can get away with as many science goofs as it needs to.

* Story- I can let a lot of things pass if they make for a better story. I don't really care, for example, if the legal system doesn't work that way in real life if it benefits the overall narrative. That said, if the error is really huge (in that even someone with no legal knowledge whatsoever can point it out), then we have a problem. And then, in some stories, you have breaks from reality that simply don't matter. For example, in the fourth season of Lost, Kate is put on trial in California for a crime she committed in Iowa. The American legal system doesn't work that way, but portraying the trial accurately would just take up screen time away from the plot, so screw it.

* Humour- This only applies to comedies or small gags in otherwise non-comedic works. Basically, if the joke is funny enough, I don't care how unrealistic it is.

* Coolness- Again, this doesn't apply to all types of stories. Mainly, it applies to action movies and speculative fiction- particularly the 'softer' varieties, such as fantasy, space opera, superheroes, etc. My mind is pliable to anything it deems to be awesome. I can forgive anything if the end result is cool enough. Hence, why I am a fan of Star Wars and superheroes. Note that this is actually part of my world-building process for my fantasy works- take the coolest thing I can think of, and then make it work.

* Quality- The quality of the rest of the work in question is also important. A major error in an otherwise excellent story will bother me far less than a minor error in an already bad story.

So, those are my standards. What are yours?

Shakesbear
05-13-2010, 07:29 PM
LordMoogi I agree with most of what you have said. Anachronisms irritate me. I was immersed in a fiction book about the Napoleonic Wars - it was well written and well paced until the point when the author had an ordinary soldier glance at his wrist watch. Just so not right.

LordMoogi
05-13-2010, 07:51 PM
LordMoogi I agree with most of what you have said. Anachronisms irritate me. I was immersed in a fiction book about the Napoleonic Wars - it was well written and well paced until the point when the author had an ordinary soldier glance at his wrist watch. Just so not right.

Obviously, the soldier was a time traveler.

DeleyanLee
05-13-2010, 07:55 PM
I "walk into" a story willing to believe anything. Tell me a good story, and you can tell me pretty much any bald-faced wrongness you want to. I'll believe it for the length of time that you're telling me a good story.

You don't tell me a good story, meaning one that keeps me somewhere between entertained and captivated, and I start thinking about things, you couldn't tell me the sky is blue and I'd believe you.

Phaeal
05-13-2010, 07:56 PM
My main requirement for suspension of disbelief is consistency and clear limits and consequences. This is particularly important in fantasy and its staple, magical systems. A world where anything is possible and all the rules can be broken can work for humor, but it takes away all limitations and all real chances for peril, so I find it a killer in any other kind of spec fic.

My prime example: In the Potterverse, magicians can change beetles to buttons and conjure hundreds of purple sleepbags ex nihilo, but there's some law of magic that says they can't transmogrify or conjure food? And that law of magic doesn't appear until Book 7, just in time for JKR to keep Harry, Ron and Hermione starving? After we've seen Molly Weasley apparently conjure cheese sauce out of thin air. Besides, Hermione's carrying around a tiny purse which can magically hold house-size tents and full-length portraits, but she couldn't tuck a few crates of canned and freeze-dried foods in there?

Yeah, sudden rule changes either to save the day or create insoluable problems. Majorly annoying.

Cyia
05-13-2010, 08:12 PM
Anything works so long as it's internally consistent with the laws of the author's created universe. Break your own rules and your book becomes kitty litter.

dclary
05-13-2010, 08:13 PM
My favorite story on suspension of belief is a lesson in cultural values.

I saw Return of the King in Puerto Vallarta in Mexico. English with Spanish Subtitles.

The audience for the most part -- with one glaring exception -- ooh'ed and ahh'ed and cheered in exactly the same places American audiences had.

Except...

When Eowyn pulled her helmet off her head, screamed "Yo es no hombre!" and stabbed the Witch King in the face, the audience was dead silent.

It was as though for Mexican audiences, they could suspend belief for hobbits, giant burning eyes, orcs, trolls, nazgul, monstrous spiders, wizards and magical stores... but they were completely unwilling to suspend their disbelief that a woman could be a hero.

Grrarrgh
05-13-2010, 08:13 PM
I tend to go into a book or TV show or movie with an open mind, willing to believe anything, but once the limits on my suspension of disbelief have been set, I'm not very willing to change them.
Buffy, for example. I was willing to believe in vamps, weres, witches, demons, six-foot preying mantises,etc, etc. There wasn't much that I wouldn't have bought. However, if I were watching something like The Big Bang Theory, or Modern Family, and suddenly a vampire swooped in and started killing people, I would be pretty ticked off because that's not how that show was set up.

This is one of the reasons I couldn't keep going with 24. It was set up to be a story of a man, a human being -granted, one with a crazy job who has to save us all, but a human being, nonetheless. Therefore watching him week after week catch bullets in his teeth, jump off 25 story building without a scratch, be kidnapped, shot, stabbed, lied to, beaten, tortured, and hit by moving cars on a highway just killed the show for me. I couldn't deal with it.

So - as I started to say before I went off on a tangent - I can suspend my disbelief for pretty much anything as long as it works within the story. I may have drawn the line for Buffy with aliens. Maybe. :)

NeuroFizz
05-13-2010, 08:14 PM
Suspension of disbelief generally applies to the big things, which allow fiction to escape from the limitations of the laws of chemistry and physics. But if you are dealing with human characters, it's usually necessary to get the small things right--human anatomy and physiology, appropriate era conventions and details, appropriate spatiotemporal relationships, etc. One can partially get past these things if the story involves construction of a new world, but if the characters have any non-human properties, these have to be spelled out quite clearly. Same with the properties of the new world. Historical stories have limitations that require a different kind of accuracy than other genres, so the answer to the original question may be somewhat genre-specific.

Kitty Pryde
05-13-2010, 08:28 PM
I have a degree in human biology, so I took a crapload of bio and chem courses, plus a couple of physics courses. You would be surprised how many perfectly good stories this has ruined for me. Either because I figure out what's going to happen way too soon, or I am enraged that the author is pretending to Understand Science, but in reality Has Got It All Wrong But No One Has Told Her. If the author wants to break out some wacky physics stuff we don't understand/probably will never exist, like quantum particle generator fields or wormholes or tachyon blasters or something, fine. The Hand-wave is acceptable. And the concept of the mutations in the X-Men doesn't even pretend to make sense, which is also fine.

Anyways, when the plot resolution rests on a semi-obscure science fact, grr! I recently read a book where a boy really really really wanted to be Krishna (who is depicted as being a blue guy, if you didn't know), and he was a sickly child and his mother made him take colloidal silver all the time (which turns you blue, if you didn't know). So, it was a good book, but the ending was already given away.

And when the science is actual real existing fact, but it's mangled badly, it makes me crazy. "Going Bovine" was a great novel, but the science was really really messed up. (Given the nature of the narrator, it's kind of okay that it's so screwy, but I have a feeling the author was aiming to get it right and failed.) There's a good Ted Chiang short story about the double-slit experiment and how quantum physics can prove that people have no souls...I know just enough physics to know why the premise is wrong, and thus it bugs the hell out of me!

The other thing that I cannot suspend my disbelief over is a really bad stereotype of a woman/gay person/person of color/person with a disability. You should know better! Okay, unless the author's name is Robert Heinlein. Sigh. Really old fiction also sometimes gets a pass on this one.

Lady Ice
05-13-2010, 09:27 PM
As long as it's entertaining, I'm willing to suspend disbelief.

Lady Ice
05-13-2010, 09:31 PM
As long as it's entertaining, I'm willing to suspend disbelief in most stuff.

happywritermom
05-13-2010, 09:39 PM
If it's written well enough (and good writing involves everything from research to pacing to voice to plot), any reader will suspend disbelief.

Kitty Pryde
05-13-2010, 09:43 PM
If it's written well enough (and good writing involves everything from research to pacing to voice to plot), any reader will suspend disbelief.

I don't think that's true. A lot of people seem incapable of suspending disbelief to read fantasy novels. The mere mention of a unicorn or a dragon is too much of a turnoff to keep reading. Many otherwise reasonable people have told me this. It's related to the "fantasy is for kids" attitude.

shaldna
05-13-2010, 09:52 PM
I believe in alot of stuff in real life that probably should be left in fiction (and for which i blame my grandmother for.) so I'm fairly open to things.

However, where you loose me is where the story or concept completely jumps the shark

dirtsider
05-13-2010, 10:07 PM
I'm willing to suspend my disbelief for most things. However, there are some things that will knock me out of that zone. Most of them are details or tangents.

For example, one of Dean Koontz's female MC's was uncomfortable about a repair man she just let into the house (with reason, he later turned out to be a stalker/assassin), but for almost a page, she's reflecting on how miserable her aunt was and even after the woman's death, how the woman was continuing to make the MC miserable while she's making a cake, instead of hovering over the guy's shoulder and making sure he's doing his job.

Or when an author has to drop brand names for products. A MC can't just pull on a pair of sneakers, they have to pull on the latest version of Nikes. If it doesn't have some sort of impact on the story, what does the brand name matter? Once or twice, I'll forgive that sort of thing but when the author consistantly does it throughout the book, then I get testy.

DeleyanLee
05-13-2010, 10:18 PM
Or when an author has to drop brand names for products. A MC can't just pull on a pair of sneakers, they have to pull on the latest version of Nikes. If it doesn't have some sort of impact on the story, what does the brand name matter? Once or twice, I'll forgive that sort of thing but when the author consistantly does it throughout the book, then I get testy.

This doesn't bother me because the simple fact that the character chooses to wear the lastest version of Nikes says something to me about the character's perspectives and values. It can say a lot in one brand name. Lots of bang for little wordage. Hard to beat that.

cbenoi1
05-13-2010, 10:41 PM
Any snafu that's central to the story and the book gets the boot. Plain and simple. If I pay for a book, I expect its writer to have spent a minimum amount of time researching the subject, and even more if said subject gets prime space in the book.

-cb

dgiharris
05-13-2010, 10:50 PM
As long as the worldbuilding is solid and 'rules' have been established, I can suspend my disbelief indefinitely.

But what annoys me to no end, is when a character doesn't do the obvious.

Lets say that the MC is a billionaire and his girlfriend runs an orphanage, but the orphanage is going to close due to lack of funding. It annoys me to no end that the MC doesn't just whip out his checkbook and solve the problem. usually, the author will contrive some trivial excuse about how he can't do it and boy does that annoy the shit out of me.

One of my pet peeves in Fantasy novels is when there is a King who is batshit crazy. He is beyond senile and well into la-la land and of course everyone around him (to include the heirs) put up with it. And of course, the land is at war and the King is making crazy ass decisions which spell the doom of all, and everyone willingly accepts their doom because "he is the king".

GGGGRRRRRrrrrrr!!!!! That makes me throw the book pretty much every single time.

Mel...

dclary
05-13-2010, 11:44 PM
I have a degree in human biology, so I took a crapload of bio and chem courses, plus a couple of physics courses. You would be surprised how many perfectly good stories this has ruined for me. Either because I figure out what's going to happen way too soon, or I am enraged that the author is pretending to Understand Science, but in reality Has Got It All Wrong But No One Has Told Her. If the author wants to break out some wacky physics stuff we don't understand/probably will never exist, like quantum particle generator fields or wormholes or tachyon blasters or something, fine. The Hand-wave is acceptable. And the concept of the mutations in the X-Men doesn't even pretend to make sense, which is also fine.

Anyways, when the plot resolution rests on a semi-obscure science fact, grr! I recently read a book where a boy really really really wanted to be Krishna (who is depicted as being a blue guy, if you didn't know), and he was a sickly child and his mother made him take colloidal silver all the time (which turns you blue, if you didn't know). So, it was a good book, but the ending was already given away.

And when the science is actual real existing fact, but it's mangled badly, it makes me crazy. "Going Bovine" was a great novel, but the science was really really messed up. (Given the nature of the narrator, it's kind of okay that it's so screwy, but I have a feeling the author was aiming to get it right and failed.) There's a good Ted Chiang short story about the double-slit experiment and how quantum physics can prove that people have no souls...I know just enough physics to know why the premise is wrong, and thus it bugs the hell out of me!

The other thing that I cannot suspend my disbelief over is a really bad stereotype of a woman/gay person/person of color/person with a disability. You should know better! Okay, unless the author's name is Robert Heinlein. Sigh. Really old fiction also sometimes gets a pass on this one.

In Dunne's fantastic book "Monster" he talks about the time he called Michael Crichton for help with string theory. Michael asked "Do you want to know enough to understand it, or enough to be able to write about it."

Sadly, most writers don't even try to get to that second level of competency.

happywritermom
05-14-2010, 12:23 AM
I don't think that's true. A lot of people seem incapable of suspending disbelief to read fantasy novels. The mere mention of a unicorn or a dragon is too much of a turnoff to keep reading. Many otherwise reasonable people have told me this. It's related to the "fantasy is for kids" attitude.

If the writing is good enough, the work will transcend genre and transcend preconceptions/personal prejudices-- even for those who can't stand unicorns.

The trouble is, it's rare to find a book that is that good.

For instance, I generally don't read fantasy because there are few fantasy writers who can make me believe in unicorns. But I was cool with unicorns in A Wrinkle in Time.

tanglewoodtracey
05-14-2010, 12:38 AM
I'm willing to suspend my disbelief for most things. However, there are some things that will knock me out of that zone. Most of them are details or tangents.

For example, one of Dean Koontz's female MC's was uncomfortable about a repair man she just let into the house (with reason, he later turned out to be a stalker/assassin), but for almost a page, she's reflecting on how miserable her aunt was and even after the woman's death, how the woman was continuing to make the MC miserable while she's making a cake, instead of hovering over the guy's shoulder and making sure he's doing his job.

Or when an author has to drop brand names for products. A MC can't just pull on a pair of sneakers, they have to pull on the latest version of Nikes. If it doesn't have some sort of impact on the story, what does the brand name matter? Once or twice, I'll forgive that sort of thing but when the author consistantly does it throughout the book, then I get testy.

I read that Dean Koontz book and thought the same thing! Drove me nuts.

Tracey

dirtsider
05-14-2010, 12:43 AM
This doesn't bother me because the simple fact that the character chooses to wear the lastest version of Nikes says something to me about the character's perspectives and values. It can say a lot in one brand name. Lots of bang for little wordage. Hard to beat that.

Yeah, well, I think the reason why it bothered me was because it didn't really say anything about the character's perspective or values as the name dropping was applied across the board to almost all the characters. If it had been limited to the one character who seemed the most concerned with his appearance, I would agree with you. The one character where it annoyed me the most was the one where it seemed to apply the least. She appeared to care more for her work than her fashion sense.

I can understand if it was done once or twice in the beginning when we're just getting to know the character. Then it's the bigger bang for the buck. But the brand name dropping was done throughout the book.

Oh and another thing about this one book - the author wasn't consistent with names. The same character was called by three different names - during the narration, not during dialogue.

DeleyanLee
05-14-2010, 02:58 AM
Yeah, well, I think the reason why it bothered me was because it didn't really say anything about the character's perspective or values as the name dropping was applied across the board to almost all the characters. If it had been limited to the one character who seemed the most concerned with his appearance, I would agree with you. The one character where it annoyed me the most was the one where it seemed to apply the least. She appeared to care more for her work than her fashion sense.

I can understand if it was done once or twice in the beginning when we're just getting to know the character. Then it's the bigger bang for the buck. But the brand name dropping was done throughout the book.

Oh and another thing about this one book - the author wasn't consistent with names. The same character was called by three different names - during the narration, not during dialogue.

Ah, so it was just a book you didn't enjoy from the get-go. Gotcha.

This is what I mean--if I was enjoying this story, none of this would phase me while I was reading. It didn't matter. Once I stopped enjoying the story, all of this would bug the shit out of me to no end.

Keep me entertained, and I'll follow you anywhere. Stop entertaining me and I can list your sins 'til the cows go back out from coming home. ;)

dgiharris
05-14-2010, 03:09 AM
If the writing is good enough, the work will transcend genre and transcend preconceptions/personal prejudices-- even for those who can't stand unicorns.

The trouble is, it's rare to find a book that is that good.

For instance, I generally don't read fantasy because there are few fantasy writers who can make me believe in unicorns. But I was cool with unicorns in A Wrinkle in Time.

Sorry, I have to 100% disagree here.

Not all humans are capable of leaving their preconceptions and personal prejudices behind.

There are many people who simply cannot read anything fantasy/sci-fi becuase it is so unrealistic to them that they cannot suspend their disbelief.

And that is neither right or wrong, it's just the way it is.

The reason its important to understand this is because for most ventures, you need to be writing to a target audience. You may be doing your work a disservice if you think you can write with no target audience in mind and hope that your work is good enough to transcend such minor concerns and appeal to everyone....

I've yet to read anything that good.

Take the movie UP for example.

I consider that one of the best movies I have ever seen, but 13% of the viewing public rated that movie as a D or an F.

Same with Wall-E and The Incredibles, movies that I consider genius.

Are these people insane? How could anyone not love those movies?

Well, they can't suspend their disbelief, these movies just don't appeal to them.

Mel...

Margarita Skies
05-14-2010, 03:28 AM
:nothing

christwriter
05-14-2010, 03:49 AM
With me, it's more or less an accumulation of stupidity. Cliched dialogue, nonsensical characters, plot twists that don't happen ... throw too many of these my way, and I'll start nit-picking. I'm not sure what the breaking point is ... but when I get there, BOY am I pissed.

underthecity
05-14-2010, 04:27 PM
I can always suspend my disbelief if it's a damn good story and the technical details are written well enough.

There are exceptions, however.

I was reading a new fiction book wherein there was a mystery of a missing person, and it was up to the MC to figure out what happened. (It was a class assignment that was starting to look like it was a Real Thing.) This main character had to go around to various locations and people around and out of town looking for clues to piece together to find this missing person.

I was fine with all of it until the very end we discover that everything was a setup. Everybody she spoke to, all locations--everything--was constructed as part of this elaborate "test" for her to figure out and solve. This was something like twenty or thirty people that had to be in on this grand scheme. Even locations, like a remote house, or a tavern filled with patrons that had to be constructed for her visit, and then taken down the very next day when she comes back and discovers it boarded up and empty.

When I got to the end of the story and found out this reveal, I said, "Come on!" How could the antagonist have been able to organize this scheme and get so many different people to help? It was impossible. And a lot of amazon reviewers said the same thing.

I haven't picked up the book since.

It was not written badly. It was a good book, except for that ending.

Noah Body
05-14-2010, 04:52 PM
I tend to have more issues suspending my disbelief while watching certain films as opposed to reading novels--but it happens a lot there as well. I get a total kick out of finding where authors like Tom Clancy essentially make stuff up just so it works for their story, as opposed to going that extra inch and integrating something more real-world. But then and again, when you're at that pay grade, it probably doesn't matter. :)

DeleyanLee
05-14-2010, 05:16 PM
I can always suspend my disbelief if it's a damn good story and the technical details are written well enough.

There are exceptions, however.

I was reading a new fiction book wherein there was a mystery of a missing person, and it was up to the MC to figure out what happened. (It was a class assignment that was starting to look like it was a Real Thing.) This main character had to go around to various locations and people around and out of town looking for clues to piece together to find this missing person.

I was fine with all of it until the very end we discover that everything was a setup. Everybody she spoke to, all locations--everything--was constructed as part of this elaborate "test" for her to figure out and solve. This was something like twenty or thirty people that had to be in on this grand scheme. Even locations, like a remote house, or a tavern filled with patrons that had to be constructed for her visit, and then taken down the very next day when she comes back and discovers it boarded up and empty.

When I got to the end of the story and found out this reveal, I said, "Come on!" How could the antagonist have been able to organize this scheme and get so many different people to help? It was impossible. And a lot of amazon reviewers said the same thing.

I read this book and had the same reaction. It was very disappointing, however that's not the same to me as losing my suspension of disbelief.

I'd already been in the book all along and accepted everything the author handed me. That's when the suspension makes a difference, at least to me. It allowed me to get into the book and start caring about what was happening and wanting to know answers despite the impracticality of what was being presented.

The fact that the author hands me stupid answers is separate. It's a failure at storytelling, but my suspension of disbelief was still intact because I wanted BETTER answers the book ended, blast it all.

Your experience obviously was slightly different, but I don't see it as the same thing.

underthecity
05-14-2010, 05:49 PM
Your experience obviously was slightly different, but I don't see it as the same thing.
My suspension of disbelief was held until the end. That's when it all fell apart for me. It kind of spoiled the whole book. It's as if it were an "it's all just a dream" ending.

kaitie
05-14-2010, 06:11 PM
I'm pretty open-minded and will accept almost anything in story form (and quite a bit in general life, actually), so I'm pretty easy. My mom, on the other hand, hates anything fantastic. She just has a different tolerance level.

What bothers me is, like others have said, when an author has something happen that doesn't work for the world. The book I'm reading right now bugs me in part because of this. Two of the main characters are a man and a woman, and the woman is set up as definitely not the traditional person. She's a very take charge, completely fearless woman, highly respected in the community, and what draws the man to her in the first place is how forward she is. Then she's attacked and reduced to a sniveling weakling. I was so irked by that. Even if an event was insanely traumatic, it still stands to reason that her attitude and personality would have been one that helped her get over it and she would have at least tried to be stronger about it. Instead she has to be rescued and saved by the big tough man.

Same book, but another point is going against general logic. I am perfectly okay with people being able to use magic in this world because the workings of it make sense. I have no problem with most of the pseudo-science. What gets me is that this tragic even for the character involved her memory of her magical abilities and what not to be stolen, and the idea is that they're so much a part of her life that she doesn't know how to live without it.

Okay, I can handle that (aside from the character annoyance lol). But then, later on it has her seeing some of her own work and not recognizing it as her own. Maybe this wouldn't bother most people, but when I saw that, it really got me because all I could think was, "But wait...if she doesn't remember to the point that she can't even recognize something she's done, then in theory she has absolutely no working memory of ANY of her ability. If that's the case, why the hell is she so traumatized because she clearly wouldn't remember having ever been able to do this in the first place."

It just made no sense to me, and just that one little line was enough to throw off my entire belief concerning that event. I'm still reading, and other parts of the story are good enough to keep going for, but that still bothers me, and I have a feeling that it's going to be one of the biggest faults I have with the story as a whole.

dirtsider
05-14-2010, 08:35 PM
Ah, so it was just a book you didn't enjoy from the get-go. Gotcha.

This is what I mean--if I was enjoying this story, none of this would phase me while I was reading. It didn't matter. Once I stopped enjoying the story, all of this would bug the shit out of me to no end.

Keep me entertained, and I'll follow you anywhere. Stop entertaining me and I can list your sins 'til the cows go back out from coming home. ;)

Pretty much. I'm pretty laid back about most things when I read but when it gets to the point where I'm editing while I'm reading, then I know I'm close to being kicking out of the "zone". And it's not just about brand names. It's when the author's constantly goes off on little tangent that I get a little annoyed.

Miss Plum
05-14-2010, 10:51 PM
You can throw any number of time machines, unicorns, vampires, and ghosts at me. But if your psychology is unconvincing, I'm gone.

cwfgal
05-14-2010, 11:56 PM
I'm pretty openminded except with medical stuff. When writers (books or TV/movies) play fast with medical facts and try to create a scenario that's impossible, I have to yell foul. Guess it's just part of being a nurse.

Beth

aadams73
05-15-2010, 01:33 AM
Throw me into a good story, build a convincing world around me, and I'll stay till the very last page.

But you'll lose me if smart characters do Too Stupid To Live things in order to take the plot in a particular direction.

Yes, sometimes smart people do dumb things, but it's typically in line with some aspect their nature, so if the motivation is there and it's character-consistent, I'm cool with it. But if it comes out of left field, and is in no way true to the character, I just can't buy into that.

Beyond that, I'm pretty easy-going. If I like the story and/or the characters, I'll hang around to see what happens next. If the world is interesting and the story and characters are on the weak side, I'll stick around to check out the world some more. It's not difficult to entertain me. :)

ETA: I will abandon novels for other reasons that have nothing to do with suspending disbelief, though. But that's a different topic.

Kitty27
05-15-2010, 03:19 AM
I cannot stand when a writer breaks established rules of their world.


I can tolerate unicorns grazing on the Serengeti,Elves from Mars,and harpies attacking folks in ATL,as long as they writer sets that up from the get go. If they come from nowhere,I get a bit peeved.

LordMoogi
05-20-2010, 08:44 PM
You can throw any number of time machines, unicorns, vampires, and ghosts at me. But if your psychology is unconvincing, I'm gone.

Agreed. Particularly if the bad psychology happens to be related to the autistic spectrum. As a high-functioning autistic myself, it really pisses me off when writers think terms like 'Asperger's Syndrome' mean 'ax crazy insanity'. And it gets worse when people in the real world take this 'evidence' as fact and force me to have to say things like, "Why yes, I do have Asperger's Syndrome, and no, I have no intention of murdering or raping anyone."

And then this bleeds off onto the Internet, where socially maladjusted dumbasses pretend to be autistic to excuse their behavior, thus making autism into a joke on many online communities (and making it difficult for real autistic people to get any respect). The only reason I'm open about my condition online is because I simply don't care what people think.

Now, I don't take myself or my condition seriously at all, making many jokes at the expense of my own disorders, but at least I actually do the research about how autism works.

Massive derail there, sorry. But it's my thread, so I think it's allowed.

Hallen
05-21-2010, 01:01 AM
We're all different on this subject. I agree that some people will never accept SFF simply because it's too much of a reach for them.

For me, any time I see something that is just wrong, like the medical stuff mentioned before, it throws me off. I know a lot about helicopters, airplanes, GPS systems and computing systems. That's one thing that killed 24 for me. Their completely unrealistic computer systems that are supposed to exist today ruin it for me. It's the worlds greatest Deus Ex Machina too.

I think that's true of anybody, if they know a lot about something, they're going to not like it when it's done wrong.

LordMoogi
05-21-2010, 01:59 AM
We're all different on this subject. I agree that some people will never accept SFF simply because it's too much of a reach for them.

For me, any time I see something that is just wrong, like the medical stuff mentioned before, it throws me off. I know a lot about helicopters, airplanes, GPS systems and computing systems. That's one thing that killed 24 for me. Their completely unrealistic computer systems that are supposed to exist today ruin it for me. It's the worlds greatest Deus Ex Machina too.

I think that's true of anybody, if they know a lot about something, they're going to not like it when it's done wrong.

Unless the end result is awesome. I'm very historically-minded, and by all rights, I should hate the film 300. But the final product is just cool, plain and simple. Thus, I am able to overlook the (possibly hundreds) of historical inaccuracies in the film.

Hallen
05-21-2010, 02:15 AM
Unless the end result is awesome. I'm very historically-minded, and by all rights, I should hate the film 300. But the final product is just cool, plain and simple. Thus, I am able to overlook the (possibly hundreds) of historical inaccuracies in the film.

I would agree with that, mostly. There's a difference between artistic interpretation and just plain wrong. :)

juniper
06-04-2010, 10:58 AM
How about changing physical geography? I started a thread over in Novels about this.

I want to put a little group of small islands just off the west coast of the USA, where there aren't any islands around for hundreds of miles in real life. The island setting is integral to the plot. The genre is cozy mystery, present day, no fantasy elements except for the islands being there.

Could you believe that?

Here's a link to the other thread.

http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=181960

Ruv Draba
06-04-2010, 01:11 PM
I'll accept anything that satisfies my four 'C's of: clarity, conflict, consistency and consequence.

ElsaM
06-06-2010, 02:03 PM
I'll suspend my disbelief for almost anything, as long as the story is well written. However, the internal logic must be consistent.

One slip up and I'll start questioning the whole world that's been created. Don't make me question your world!

dclary
06-08-2010, 03:33 AM
How about changing physical geography? I started a thread over in Novels about this.

I want to put a little group of small islands just off the west coast of the USA, where there aren't any islands around for hundreds of miles in real life. The island setting is integral to the plot. The genre is cozy mystery, present day, no fantasy elements except for the islands being there.

Could you believe that?

Here's a link to the other thread.

http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=181960


Why not set it on the anacapa islands? or on catalina?

juniper
06-08-2010, 03:44 AM
Thanks, but catalina is way too far south (SoCal), way too big and way too far away from shore! anacapa too far south, too far offshore. I think I'm just going to make one up that suits me. If it doesn't fly, then I'll have to change it.

darkangel77
06-09-2010, 01:54 AM
I'll believe anything...you just have to convince me :)

Mann Crux
06-09-2010, 02:11 AM
I can't really stand it when I feel like the author is winking at me constantly as if to say "This is pretty funny, isn't it?" or "Do you see what I did there? Witty or what?". Storm Front (Dresden Case Files) was particularly difficult to get through. Overall though it was a good book, just not my exact cup of tea.

Menyanthana
06-12-2010, 10:53 PM
Anyways, when the plot resolution rests on a semi-obscure science fact, grr! I recently read a book where a boy really really really wanted to be Krishna (who is depicted as being a blue guy, if you didn't know), and he was a sickly child and his mother made him take colloidal silver all the time (which turns you blue, if you didn't know). So, it was a good book, but the ending was already given away.


I did something like this with a subplot. Thought it was fun for people who know the science fact to be able to foretell what will happen.
Is it only so annoying because it is the main plot?

@Juniecat: I consider it the right of an author to make up places. We make up the people and events, why not the places?

KTC
06-13-2010, 03:16 AM
i don't have a limit. my only request is that the writing is rock solid. i live in a fairy tale world...i can leave my disbelief at the door. i don't think it has anything to do with genre at all.

i hate reading sci-fi and fantasy...not because i don't believe it. i just don't dig it at all. i can believe ANYTHING i read in a novel...as long as it's done flawlessly. don't tell me that the world is made of butter, though, if it's clearly sitting right there in front of me and it looks like potato salad. butter ain't fucking potato salad, Sally!

autumnleaf
06-13-2010, 11:06 PM
Here are two examples of stories where I was pulled out of the story:

- In one book, the problem was psychological implausibility. The main character discovered that she was a "doorstep baby" and the people who brought her up weren't her biological parents. So far, so good. But then she met up with her adopted brother and realized that she had sexual feelings for him. At which point I went "What? That wouldn't happen! Doesn't the author know any adoptive siblings? It doesn't matter if they don't share DNA, in her mind he would be still her brother." If I hadn't been within 50 pages of the end, I would never have bothered finishing the book.

- In another book, the issue was a lack of really basic research. A minor character was a Mexican immigrant to the U.S. who made mistakes when speaking English. I once worked as an EFL teacher in a Spanish-speaking country, so I'm aware of the common mistakes that students make when learning English. This character did not make any of these mistakes, but instead made some weird errors that no normal person makes. Every time this character spoke, I thought "this is wrong, she wouldn't talk like that." It would have been a simple matter for the author to find a native Spanish speaker or EFL teacher, and run this by them.

MGraybosch
06-17-2010, 05:29 PM
I'm pretty openminded except with medical stuff. When writers (books or TV/movies) play fast with medical facts and try to create a scenario that's impossible, I have to yell foul. Guess it's just part of being a nurse.

Beth

I have a similar issue when it comes to computers, since my day job involves them.

NewKidOldKid
06-17-2010, 06:15 PM
I don't think that's true. A lot of people seem incapable of suspending disbelief to read fantasy novels. The mere mention of a unicorn or a dragon is too much of a turnoff to keep reading. Many otherwise reasonable people have told me this. It's related to the "fantasy is for kids" attitude.

Yeah, that would be me. I can accept many things, but you throw a unicorn or elves and dragons in there and I'm gone. I just can't buy it long enough to enjoy the story.

MGraybosch
06-17-2010, 06:18 PM
Just don't insult what little intelligence I still possess after having survived American public education. Is that too much to ask?

Synovia
06-17-2010, 06:29 PM
or I am enraged that the author is pretending to Understand Science, but in reality Has Got It All Wrong But No One Has Told Her. ... The Hand-wave is acceptable. And the concept of the mutations in the X-Men doesn't even pretend to make sense, which is also fine.

This.


I just can't handle when authors talk bad science (and I love sci-fi). If you don't understand it, don't try to explain it, just say that it is, and move on.

About 3 episodes into watching Fringe, I wanted to light my TV on fire.