"...Samuel Taylor Coleridge, suggested that if a writer could infuse a "human interest and a semblance of truth" into a fantastic tale, the reader would suspend judgement concerning the implausibility of the narrative... It might be used to refer to the willingness of the audience to overlook the limitations of a medium, so that these do not interfere with the acceptance of those premises. These fictional premises may also lend to the engagement of the mind and perhaps proposition of thoughts, ideas, art and theories."(Wikipedia, 2011: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suspension_of_disbelief)
Another aspect that I look for in a book is "suspension of disbelief". Sometimes when an author is so talented, he can convince the reader so utterly of the world he has created that the reader is transported to another world entirely. That world is so convincingly real that it is so very easy to think that it could happen or "suspend disbelief". As far as I can see, there are two major factors that people in the literary industry attributes to "suspension of disbelief": One, the author factor. And two, the reader factor.
- Author Factor
- Author's Convincing Talent: bryngreenwood's comment highlights the idea of "believability" of a story/scene/narrative and the author's convincing ability, in which he said that:
"....last night I had to quit watching a movie because I just didn't believe in the characters. I said, "Look, I'm willing to believe that a neo-Nazi skinhead could fall in love with a black woman, but I don't believe that this skinhead is falling in love with this woman. Simple as that."(Isabel Roman, 2009: http://bit.ly/fefTZa)
- Author's Convincing Talent: Isabel Roman supports the "author's convincing ability" argument and states that "suspension of disbelief" requires a delicate balance of how the writer weaves his fiction. And I quote her:
Ordinarily, you might not accept there are true, real Witch Hunters in the world, but presented as fact within a universe, it could be made believable. You can’t be tentative when creating a universe such as this. While dealing with magicks and so on, there’s still that careful line between what people will generally accept as “Well, that’s magick”, and what they’ll say as “That’s ridiculous.”(Isabel Roman, 2009: http://bit.ly/glOOxT).
- Consistency: Allison Pang further argues that the author's consistency with the world he has created plays a major role in the reader's "suspension of disbelief" (Allison Pang, 2011: http://bit.ly/h73e3M). An author is not allowed to break his own rules.
- Another factor attributed to "suspension of disbelief" is the readers or audiences' frame of mind (Welkos, 1993: http://lat.ms/eAxY6M). How receptive is the audience to the world the author has created?
So, "suspension of disbelief" is influenced by the human interest and semblance of truth in the story, plus the author's covincing talents with consistency and the reader's receptiveness.
Whether it's 90% author's talent and 10% reader's receptiveness, is up for debate, because there is no solid evidence that I found to substantiate either way. However in my experience, when it comes to "suspension of disbelief", I find it important that it has to make sense, for me to be able to suspend disbelief. To me, "It happened like that just because it's magic" wouldn't cut it. It wouldn't convince me as a reader to suspend disbelief. Consequently, I would have the tendency to put that book down and pick up another. In which case, I probably would not buy another book by that author ever again. So I say, on top of Allison Pang's "consistency" argument and Isabel Roman's "delicate balance" theory, that the story also has to make sense for a reader to suspend disbelief. So in your experience as a reader, what do you find makes it difficult or easy for you to suspend disbelief?