What will suspend the disbelief of readers?

The character or the story?

Kind of a chicken and egg question.

 

 

My husband loves action movies. Lots of action with special effects and death-defying stunts. The bigger, higher, louder and most incredulous the better. Me, I can take or leave them. However, good actors are a must for me to sit through any movie.

So with the promise of dinner, I agreed to go see Equalizer 2 with Denzel Washington. A win-win for us both. Hubby gets lots of action and I don’t have to cook plus I get to watch Denzel. Be still my heart.Beating heartLater that evening, over dinner, we discussed our likes and dislikes. Hubby could use more action. Sigh… But, our conversation did get me to thinking about the suspension of disbelief. About how I can accept a temporary acceptance of a particular reality or situation that normally strain credulity?  Because that’s what it takes to keep me in my theater seat or turning the pages in a book.

Now everyone knows movies like Mission Impossible, and Equalizer aren’t real. So, what is it about these movies that keep fans coming back? That gets us so involved we jump in our seats every time there is an over the top explosion? Cringe when an actor leaps from tall buildings in a single bound, and he isn’t Superman?

For me, it’s the actor and he must sell the story. Same with books. A reader cannot get lost in our story unless they become invested in a character. Hate or love doesn’t matter. But the reader must have strong feelings about your character.

Which brings me to my writing.

What is it in a story that enables a reader to suspend disbelief?

Is it the character, plot or storyline?

For me, it’s the character. If I feel an attachment to the character, he becomes life-like. I want him to survive and succeed or die and disappear off the face of the earth. See what I mean about strong feelings?

What makes a character life-like when there are unbelievable stunts and wild special effects that we know are not possible?

Is there a way to show a vulnerability that will make a reader care?

Yes. Through everyday events. Back to my movie example. In the Equalizer 2, a lot of regular, believable, and even mundane things give the Robert McCall depth. He drove a Lyft car, lived in a simple apartment, helped neighbors, cared for an elderly customer, made tea, cooked, read books, etc. You know, normal stuff. With these normal human activities scattered throughout the movie, I liked the man. And when the wild, out there unbelievable began to happen, I gladly suspended disbelief to cheer in on.

What do you do to get a reader invested?

How do you connect with unbelievable stories?

Got any tips for me?

Go to the bottom of this post and click on the links.

Writing Fiction: How To Write Evocative Characters Through Action And Strong Language

Suspension of Disbelief

FICTION AND THE SUSPENSION OF DISBELIEF Eva Schaper

 

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Boost your writing with these awesome free tip sheets

Putting into words, emotion, desires, hopes, and dreams are not always easy.

I could hardly contain my excitement when I spotted this post. Y’all know how much I love shortcuts, tip sheets, and lists of all kinds. So you can imagine my excitement when Becca Puglisi and Angela Ackerman co-authors of 6 bestselling writing guides. If you haven’t read any of their books, I can only assume you’ve been hiding in a cave somewhere.

They’ve provided 41 lists to make writing and finding a character arc so much easier. You’ll want to download shortcuts to your computer for easy reference.

It may not be easy to capture the essence of a character, but with these free writing tip sheets brought to you by One Stop for Writers, it gets easier. Now you can take your writing to a higher level.

Want to get started with their first book? Click on the image below.

The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression by [Ackerman, Angela, Puglisi,Becca]What did you think?

Do you think these checklists and tip sheets are helpful?

Which books by Angela and Becca do you have?

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How to avoid crowding your story with people

I hate crowds. Theme parks, large parties, or squeezing past a million people in Times Square are a few of the things that make me claustrophobic. As if walls of people are closing in around me. Something similar happens when I’m reading a book with too many characters fighting for my attention. Soon, I’ll lay the book down, unfinished, and pick up another. Flipping back and forth to see who is talking drives me nuts.

So, just how many characters are too many?

How do you know who to cut and who to keep?

I’ve always heard it’s best to keep it simple. No one needs to know the entire background of the doorman unless he is the killer.

I discovered a great article that might help you understand how to determine which characters to keep.

Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen: Why you shouldn’t overload your novel with characters. By Erica Ellis 

Signs your story has too many people, if a character…

  • Pops up begging to tell their own story. Makes you feel like playing “whack-a-mole.”
  • Diverts the reader’s attention taking them down rabbit holes.
  • Becomes a limelight hog, not content to stay in the shadows.
  • Doesn’t help promote the main character’s progress, moving the plot forward.

Too many characters can remove the intimate feel of a story. Which stops the reader from forming a bond with the main character.

Be sure and click on Erica’s post and read more about how to avoid too many characters in your story.

Me Let's Discuss - Jeanswriting.comIs adding too many characters or subplots a problem for you?

Do your minor characters beg for more attention?

Do you have a good tip for selecting the right character?

 

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Is the bad guy evil or just irritating?

So, what is the difference between an evil person and an aggravating person?

A villain is evil but not always the antagonist.

An antagonist is not always evil and therefore not always the villain.

What Confused! Bitmoji Jean M Cogdell

Confused yet?

Well, hang in there. In an article by Annika Griffith, she explains the difference.

Just because someone in your book opposes the protagonist doesn’t make them evil. That makes this character an antagonist.

But, a character who opposes your protagonist with evil actions can become a villain.

Hang on, stay with me.

Koala Bear hanging on to a branch Jean's Writing

However, a character whose evil actions and motives are harmful to the protagonist, now that’s a villain.

What all this gibberish means is that the villain and antagonist can be two different characters or the same person.

Villian:

Maleficent Disney Movie Villian
Maleficent
  • Evil actions and/or motives
  • Doesn’t always oppose the protagonist
  • Can be the protagonist in the story
  • Is a character “type” not a plot role

 

 

 

 

Elsa from Frozen
Elsa from Frozen

Antagonist:

  • Aren’t  evil, just a pain in the ass for the protagonist
  • Motives or actions aren’t evil
  • Is a character who conflicts with a protagonist
  • Opposes and causes conflict with the main character
  • Is a plot role and says nothing about their character or personality

 

Clear as mud right?

Well, I think Ms. Griffith explains it better, so click on the link below and get the nitty-gritty. Then meet me at the water cooler.

Me Let's Discuss - Jeanswriting.comIf the villain is not always an antagonist, do we need both in a story?

Do you use both or combine the attributes into one character?

What do you think? How do you interject a character conflict into a story?

The Difference Between Villains and Antagonist by Annika Griffith

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