9 November 2018, Writing – part x587, Developing Skills, How to Suspend Disbelief, Preventing Logic Issues
Announcement: Delay, my new novels can be seen on the internet, but my primary publisher has gone out of business—they couldn’t succeed in the past business and publishing environment. I’ll keep you informed, but I need a new publisher. More information can be found atwww.ancientlight.com. Check out my novels–I think you’ll really enjoy them.
Introduction: I wrote the novel Aksinya: Enchantment and the Daemon. This was my 21st novel and through this blog, I gave you the entire novel in installments that included commentary on the writing. In the commentary, in addition to other general information on writing, I explained, how the novel was constructed, the metaphors and symbols in it, the writing techniques and tricks I used, and the way I built the scenes. You can look back through this blog and read the entire novel beginning withhttp://www.pilotlion.blogspot.com/2010/10/new-novel-part-3-girl-and-demon.html.
I’m using this novel as an example of how I produce, market, and eventually (we hope) get a novel published. I’ll keep you informed along the way.
The four plus one basic rules I employ when writing:
- Don’t confuse your readers.
- Entertain your readers.
- Ground your readers in the writing.
- Don’t show (or tell) everything.
4a. Show what can be seen, heard, felt, smelled, and tasted on the stage of the novel.
- Immerse yourself in the world of your writing.
These are the steps I use to write a novel including the five discrete parts of a novel:
- Design the initial scene
- Develop a theme statement (initial setting, protagonist, protagonist’s helper or antagonist, action statement)
- Research as required
- Develop the initial setting
- Develop the characters
- Identify the telic flaw (internal and external)
- Write the initial scene (identify the output: implied setting, implied characters, implied action movement)
- Write the next scene(s) to the climax (rising action)
- Write the climax scene
- Write the falling action scene(s)
- Write the dénouement scene
I finished writing my 29th novel, working title, Detective, potential titleBlue Rose: Enchantment and the Detective. The theme statement is: Lady Azure Rose Wishart, the Chancellor of the Fae, supernatural detective, and all around dangerous girl, finds love, solves cases, breaks heads, and plays golf.
Here is the cover proposal for Blue Rose: Enchantment and the Detective.
The most important scene in any novel is the initial scene, but eventually, you have to move to the rising action. I am continuing to write on my 30thnovel, working title Red Sonja. I finished my 29th novel, working titleDetective. I’m planning to start on number 31, working title Shifter.
How to begin a novel. Number one thought, we need an entertaining idea. I usually encapsulate such an idea with a theme statement. Since I’m writing a new novel, we need a new theme statement. Here is an initial cut.
For novel 30: Red Sonja, a Soviet spy, infiltrates the X-plane programs at Edwards AFB as a test pilot’s administrative clerk, learns about freedom, and is redeemed.
For novel 31: TBD
Here is the scene development outline:
- Scene input (comes from the previous scene output or is an initial scene)
- Write the scene setting (place, time, stuff, and characters)
- Imagine the output, creative elements, plot, telic flaw resolution (climax) and develop the tension and release.
- Write the scene using the output and creative elements to build the tension.
- Write the release
- Write the kicker
Today: Suspension of disbelief is the characteristic of writing that pulls the reader into the world of the novel in such a way that the reader would rather face the world of the novel rather than the real world—at least while reading. If this occurs while not reading, it is potentially a mental problem. To achieve the suspension of disbelief your writing has to meet some basic criteria and contain some strong inspiration. If you want to call the inspiration creativity, that works too. Here is a list of the basic criteria to hope to achieve some degree of suspension of disbelief.
- Reasonably written in standard English
- No glaring logical fallacies
- Reasoned worldview
- Creative and interesting topic
- A Plot
We know that subtle logical issues will not knock the reader out of a strong suspension of disbelief. Then what should we be looking for in our writing?
Logical issues come in three varieties: worldview, time, and place.
We will look at the reasoned worldview in great detail, but the characteristic that really affects the suspension of disbelief is an unreasonable worldview. The most glaring comes out of science fiction and fantasy. For example, a magical system that the writer manipulates illogically to provide a problem resolution, or a science system (or idea) that the author changes to resolve an issue.
These aren’t as unusual as you might think. The trick in all writing is to develop any novel to the climax. The climax is the resolution of the telic flaw. Every author needs to realize the telic flaw resolution must be the expected/unexpected. This is sometimes misidentified as a surprise ending or climax. In other words, every novel is expected to have some type of surprise climax.
Think about this. The expectation of the expected/unexpected is that the telic flaw will be resolved in the climax, but the means is unexpected. In fact, if the author plays it right, the expected resolution looks impossible, but then within the context of the novel, becomes obvious in the climax—the unexpected. Most fantasy and many science fiction novels manipulate the rules of the world to provide this unexpected climax. In Harry Potty, the system of magic allows the protagonist and the protagonist’s helpers to resolve the climax in every case. In the first novel, the magical stone which is the focus of the novel, a magical mirror (the obsession of the protagonist), and the special magical characteristic of the protagonist all entwine to provide the resolution. Bringing three elements together in an unexpected fashion is a typical resolution means in many novels. None of these ideas, stone, mirror, magic, are true in the real world. They are constructions in the world of Harry Potty. If the author did not provide a resolution of the issues in the novel that matched the magical system, the reader would immediately note the discontinuity and be knocked out of the suspension of disbelief.
Now, the writer of Harry Potty wisely chose a very simple and unexplained magic system—with it the author can do almost anything. The logical fallacies with such an inexplicable system come not with the elements, but with the spells themselves. One of the greatest is why the bad dudes don’t just use the banned and ultimate curses to blast everyone to he double toothpicks. The reader just overlooks this gross logical fallacy, but it’s there for adults to wonder about and to be knocked out of the suspension of disbelief.
The usual child’s response to this fallacy is to assume the world isn’t that bad, but any adult can see that the bad guys are really bad. Why really bad people would not use their very bad spells to just wipe out the good guys, only suspension of disbelief can tell.
The other large logical fallacy in Harry Potty is also related to the use of spells. For example, with the ability to use the flue spell, the portal spell, or just plain old teleportation, why would they need to ride on brooms, magical trains, or endanger themselves in any other fashion? The answer is the writer misused her own magical system to provide plot elements for entertainment and to provide situations for her scenes.
This type of manipulation would never be acceptable in an adult novel, but it makes for a great kid’s book as well as great movie effects. Many movies have this problem, but the plot moves so quickly from point to point that most of the viewers don’t get the logical inconsistencies and aren’t knocked out of the suspension of disbelief.
This problem of worldview is not just a problem of fantasy and magic. Science fiction is also very susceptible. Most of the Star Bores movies are so filled with science inconsistencies and logical fallacy, they are hard for me, as a scientist, to watch. If I ignore the science and just pretend Star Bores is all magic, it works better for me, but readers might or might not be so generous.
We haven’t discussed basic logical issues. These are ones related to obvious worldview inconsistencies and fallacies. The reason is that most of these problems won’t ever get past a publisher or editor. You will find them rampant in self-published works, but not usually in any professionally published novels.
These are pure errors in logic concerning the actions and reactions of the real world. For example, if a person is hit with a bullet in the real world, they are injured and have a high probability of death. Is it only in the movies where people can be shot multiple times and still keep firing, fighting, and winning. This won’t usually float in any novel, but people lap it up in movies. This is a real world inconsistency.
More obvious issues are related to time and place.
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