Suspending Our Disbelief

One of the challenges of coming up with a good story is making your world believable.  Why do we completely buy into the existence of Hogwarts, whereas the sight of Tom Hanks stuck in an airport terminal makes us want to shout, “Just walk through the door, you big dummy!”

I’ve always been a bit of a cynic; perfecting my signature lip spritz-slash-eye-roll by the time I was ten.  Like when I learned that my short-haired, sensibly-shoed fourth grade teacher had formerly been a nun, but had left the church for “personal reasons.”  Nudge-nudge, wink-wink.  Sadly, none of my classmates were yet fluent in air quotes.

It is hard for me to suspend my disbelief.  Harder than most people, I’ve come to realize.  And because of this, on movie night, my sweet, patient husband is often forced to endure one of my rants.  i.e., “What studio exec was deluded enough to believe that seeing an elderly baby[1] on the big screen was a good idea?” Eye-roll/lip spritz.

And yet, I want to believe.  I long to be drawn into a fictional world, to clap my hands because I DO believe in fairies.

I love the magic, but I despise the lie.   And I firmly believe there is a big and obvious difference between the two–one, being a fiction that moves us to willingly suspending our disbelief, and the other, which dupes us into deluding ourselves.  Just like it did to all those mother-f-ers who caused the mortgage crisis.  I don’t think all of them were plotting to do evil[2], I think most of them were just suspending their disbelief.  I mean REALLY suspending it.  And if I had to guess, they’re probably the same people who also loved “The Terminal.”


[1] “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.”  Skip it.

[2] My guess is 20%, tops.

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Filed under books, movies, YA, writing, Uncategorized

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