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TheEarCollector
June 30th, 2005, 08:59 PM
Suspension of disbelief... it's something we do a lot when we watch movies and read books, but every now and then someone tries to push it too far and just ruins the whole story. Of course scifi and fantasy have a much greater ability to call for suspended disbelief, but even they at times can cross that boundary between the feasible and the utterly impossible...

What do you do to make sure you aren't pushing your boundaries too far?

While you may have a legitimate reason behind what you are doing, does it have to be explained before the readers truly understand?

For example, in my current W.I.P. there is a technologically advanced civilization, but they shun the use of medicine entirely (still thinking that it is caused by the presence of evil spirits), would readers buy this in a futuristic world, or should I try to weave in the tribal roots of the culture a little more deeply just in case they don't?

Ward
June 30th, 2005, 09:23 PM
its hard to say...its kind of like asking 'should a painting of a storm-tossed sea have more grey in it than blue?' in other words, it can't really be evaluated until its a whole thing, a whole story.

but, if you are having second thoughts as a writer you should go in and make the changes to your story to make sure the belief bubble doesn't burst; telling a story is, after all, dependant on your instincts as a writer.

to specifically address your story, i would say yes, if you introduce an unusal element to your story (sophisticated culture shuning medicine) you should be at painst o either explain it early, or at least hint at an explaination. I wouldn't say there is a hard and fast rule for this, it could very well be that you don't explain something and still compel a reader's attention via other means.

sometimes I think you need to turn off the analysis and let the autopilot take over a bit and just concentrate on tellign the story, if you get some peer reviews later that mention suspension of disbelief as a problem you can always work some solutiuons into a later draft.

JamesL
July 1st, 2005, 05:05 AM
Suspension of disbelief... it's something we do a lot when we watch movies and read books, but every now and then someone tries to push it too far and just ruins the whole story. Of course scifi and fantasy have a much greater ability to call for suspended disbelief, but even they at times can cross that boundary between the feasible and the utterly impossible...

A classic example is Dan Brown's Angels and Demons - the story is generally believable up until near the end. I won't explain what happens so as not to spoil it for others but there was a scene involving a bomb and a helicopter and it was so laughably overblown that it ruined the story.


For example, in my current W.I.P. there is a technologically advanced civilization, but they shun the use of medicine entirely (still thinking that it is caused by the presence of evil spirits), would readers buy this in a futuristic world, or should I try to weave in the tribal roots of the culture a little more deeply just in case they don't?

Tough one. Generally, the development of technology and medicine has led to a developed belief in science and a decrease in the belief in magic and the supernatural. I think if you paint the tribal roots as being deep enough, it should be fine. Afterall, more than a third of Americans (or some similar percentage) still believe Elvis is alive, so I guess anything goes. ;)

kater
July 1st, 2005, 05:28 AM
For example, in my current W.I.P. there is a technologically advanced civilization, but they shun the use of medicine entirely (still thinking that it is caused by the presence of evil spirits), would readers buy this in a futuristic world, or should I try to weave in the tribal roots of the culture a little more deeply just in case they don't?

I'll be honest from just reading that I'd say yes it is kinda hard to swallow. The background would, for me anyway, have to be specific and convincing before I could accept the premise.

Ouroboros
July 1st, 2005, 05:53 AM
For example, in my current W.I.P. there is a technologically advanced civilization, but they shun the use of medicine entirely (still thinking that it is caused by the presence of evil spirits), would readers buy this in a futuristic world, or should I try to weave in the tribal roots of the culture a little more deeply just in case they don't?

Carl Sagan wrote some very interesting material before his death exploring the idea that despite our living in an age of comparatively advanced technology, we also live in times rife with belief in superstition and pseudo-science. In many ways, he argues, people are less scientifically literate now than in parts of the previous century.

I think your premise can work, if handled correctly.

If I can believe in Jevoha's witnesses who cook their food with microwaves, and fly in jets (but who believe a blood transfusion will taint their soul and bar them from entry to some utopian afterlife) ... I can believe in your 'evil spirits' premise.

As regards the broader topic of what pushes suspension of disbelief too far: For me it is more in the vein of characters whose motivations are never sufficiently illustrated, acting 'out of character', so to speak. Sometimes they will act in the way they do only because it serves the progression of the plot.

TheEarCollector
July 1st, 2005, 08:24 AM
Let me try to give some more info, they are technologically advanced not because they develop their own technology, but because they travel around, borrow everyone elses, and throw it together...
They never develop their own technology, but that doesn't mean that their weapons and vehicles aren't high tech.
Part of their belief that illness is caused by evil spirits is rooted in the fact that they strongly believe that the dead pass on into the next life to watch over them (and guide them)...
But of course, like any religion, there are dissenters to this belief.

I think of it sort of like the modern Bedouin. Now, cars are more common than camels to the nomadic herders, but they still burn you in certain spots to cure illnesses...

Hereford Eye
July 1st, 2005, 11:51 AM
IMO, if you write so that you can believe in it; your audience will as well.

Holbrook
July 1st, 2005, 01:59 PM
IMO, if you write so that you can believe in it; your audience will as well.

I would add to that have your characters act as if their world is real. They know their history/world/culture and move through that world with ease. You have to use words to convince the reader that everything that is happening is true as seen through your characters' eyes.

Example; you say to your mate "Damn good try in that match last night." You don't go into a history of Rugby do you? So you need to have your characters be "normal" in their surroundings, then drop in the adventure carefully on various levels.

Crack that nut and you are half way there.

Abby
July 1st, 2005, 03:05 PM
From what you've said, EarCollector, I'd have trouble suspending my disbelief for this one. These people must have contact with other (medicine using) cultures, if they steal technology. Therefore, they can see the effects of medicine, and their priests or government would feel some typical human greed for a way to prolong their own lives, or to save those they care about. I believe that this basic human greed can overcome any religious or philosophical idealism. Power corrupts and all that. Unless your people aren't human-like . . . then it's a different ball game.

I'll mention something similar in my saga. I've got a culture of technologically advanced people who shun genetic engineering. Their reason is because they are a result of genetic engineering gone awry, and they still feel negative effects (in the form of horrible genetic mutations) from that event. So they welcome FTL travel, and advanced medicines, and so forth . . . but their scientists can be put to death if they come even close to experimenting with stem-cells and cloning.

I think (I hope) this is a sufficient explanation for the dichotomy in their technology. :)

queenmegumi
July 1st, 2005, 04:21 PM
People will believe anything if you MAKE it believable. I mean, people believe in UFOs, spirits, and other stuff that there is no actual proof of. Also, don't forget that in certain world cultures (i.e. Japan) techonology that puts the rest of the world to shame exists side by side with religious practices and taboos. For example, up until fairly recently dentistry was not a major profession because of a taboo about putting fingers in the mouth. Many Asian countries still prefer herbal medicines to the super-duper stuff we have in North America. So a culture that shuns medicine? Not as far-fetched as one would think. All you have to do is come up with something plausible, and I'm willing to lose myself in the story. :) Pardon spelling mistakes I'm too lazy to check it.