Sunday, November 26, 2006

Suspension of Disbelief

Well, on Friday, having written about six paragraphs in my work-in-progress, I decided that it was time for a break. Kay and I make it a rule to avoid the malls on "Black Friday" (the day the retailers go into the black and shoppers into the red). Instead, we decided to see a movie. We generally end up going to the movies a couple of times a year. It's not that we're anti-movie. Although many of the films that Hollywood is now producing just don't push our buttons, there are still some family-type shows out there that we think would be fun. Unfortunately, there just never seem to be enough hours in the day or days in the week for us to do all the things we need to do, much less carving out a couple of hours to sit in a theatre. But Friday we decided to play hookey and go to a movie.

I'm a kid at heart, and I'm not sure that Kay has ever grown up, either, so we decided to see the third in the Tim Allen series, "The Santa Clause." (Yes, that's the right spelling--it has to do with the plot). We thoroughly enjoyed the movie, and left the theatre classifying it as a "feel-good" experience. Then I made the mistake of reading the reviews, something I rarely do before going to a movie, since the reviewers and I haven't agreed in decades. The experts panned the show like an 1849 California miner. So, how did that make me feel? I still felt good. We'd enjoyed it, too bad about the critics.

All this has set me thinking about why Kay and I liked the film and the professionals didn't. I guess it's a matter of attitude. We went expecting to laugh, to sink ourselves deep into a fantasy world, and--to use a term all you fiction writers understand--to suspend our disbelief. So Tim Allen didn't really become Santa Claus. So he couldn't convince his in-laws (played wonderfully by Ann Margret and Allen Arkin) that he was really a toymaker and they were visiting him and their daughter in Canada. So what? We weren't looking for literary excellence in the screenplay. We didn't expect a hidden message (although there's a bit of "It's A Wonderful Life" feeling toward the end). We went to be entertained, and we were.

A number of my writing friends routinely ask me to suspend my disbelief. Al Gansky, I don't really know about all this transdimensional stuff, but I love your J D Stanton books. Brandilyn Collins, I'm not sure about a woman who can sense evil, but Eyes of Elisha was excellent. Randy Ingermanson, I'm a little dubious about time travel and I get totally lost when you introduce quantum physics, but still you make me want to read more. I'm willing to suspend my disbelief.

Well, it's time to get back to writing. And maybe if my protagonist gets stuck, I can ask my readers to suspend their disbelief as I stretch to get him out of whatever predicament I've created.


Kristy Dykes said...

Glad I found your blog, through your website. I plan to be back. I like the way you write. You write like you're sitting in the room with your reader and talking to him/her.

God bless--

Richard L. Mabry, MD said...

Thanks, Kristy. And to all of you who visit from time to time, I appreciate your dropping by and sharing my musings and random thoughts. I'll try to make your visits worthwhile.