Archive for the 'Believability' Category

Jul 15 2010

What are some unbelievable things that have actually happened?

Published by under Believability,Comedy

I provide advice about how to write novels, comic books and graphic novels. Most of my content applies to fiction-writing in general, but I also provide articles specifically about superhero stories.

Just because something has happened doesn’t necessarily make it believable.  Here are some examples.

John Quincy Adams kept a pet alligator in the White House.  (Not surprisingly, he faced no assassination attempts).

Unwacky: Brett Favre’s first completed pass was to himself.
Barely wacky: Austria’s World Cup team threw a key match to West Germany to screw Algeria.  The game got so bad the announcer asked viewers to change the channel.
Wackier: “You were like 50 feet away.  How could you be so sure that the ball crossed into the German goal?”  “Stalingrad.”
Outlandish: “The Band Is On the Field!”

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Jul 10 2010

Your Story Doesn’t Have to be Realistic or Plausible, Just Believable

If we accept the premise of your story, whether that’s heroes getting superpowers from unlikely insect bites or gaining magical powers, does the rest of the story make sense?  For example, you could get readers to buy into a guy getting magical powers and using them to fight a magical mob.  But if the story is mostly realistic, like a cop infiltrating the mob, it’ll really disorient readers if a mobster starts using magic on page 200.  If you’re planning on using unrealistic elements, introduce or foreshadow them early so that readers won’t be surprised when they show up.  (For more on this, please see Holly Lisle and the Case of the Exploding Cat).

Realistic: the premise occurs or could easily occur in real life. Cops infiltrating the mob or students dealing with school, for example.  Most superhero stories don’t have very much realistic stuff going on, and that isn’t a problem.  Many premises give a superhero superpowers/capabilities through supernatural means such as science fiction, magic/occult, religion, etc.  The only thing that matters is whether the reader can maintain the suspension of disbelief.

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