Every time anyone listens to a story, reads a novel, watches a film… disbelief has to be successfully suspended. Improbable things happen, but within the word of those improbable things there has to be a logic and sense and rationale. Sometimes one person might successfully enter that unreal world, while another thinks it’s total rubbish, so it isn’t just how the piece is written/told/shown, it is how the audience accepts it. I talk a lot about audience to the people in my writing groups; even if the only audience for the work is themselves, they have to consider how the piece will be read.
I have listened to a radio soap, The Archers, since I was a small child and listened with my aunty; there have been a great many improbable things happening over the years, but in the last six months, the balance has been tilted so that I no longer am able to enter Archer-land, because it is no longer true to its own rationale.
I have more recently been watching Grantchester, set in the Cambridge of my childhood. I grew up there, so the scenes they show of the River Cam – well, I know that river, I have swum in it, boated on it, walked and cycled by it! I have spotted quite a few inconsistencies in the series… but it doesn’t matter, it just doesn’t matter, because the balance is maintained in favour of me entering and remaining in its world, and being carried along by the characters, the mysteries, and the on-going relationships between the people in it.
A recent reviewer criticised a scene in which an unlikely act of violence was committed; I disagreed that it was unlikely, because I had engaged sufficiently with the character who did it to understand his motives and reason. In fact, I had used the exact same scenario in my book Flipside, which I published last year!
If you haven’t read Flipside yet you can find it here: