Sunday, September 10, 2006

Ahh.... Imagination

Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try! ~Ted Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Thinks You Can Think!

I loved that book, didn't you? One of Suess's all time greats.

In a story I'm currently working on, my heroine is fired from her job. The way it happens is kind of boring, although I didn't think about it until I stumbled across this article on It's entitled "Worst ways to get fired". Man, oh man, are there some great ideas for a story in there.

My plots tend to be a little off center. I like for strange things (or strange people) to happen to my relatively normal H/H. Some of my favorite places to look for odd things that have really happened are CNN's Offbeat news or here USA Today's Offbeat news or any of a dozen other places.

The problem is that when I use something like what I find, no one believes it could happen. I've had some strange things happen to me and occasionally I throw one in to a story (I did that with the one I referenced, above). And, almost every time, I'll get comments about something like that being hard to believe or that it couldn't happen... but, Um, it happened to ME.

So, what do you do when you've written in something highly improbable but that has actually happened and folks don't believe that something like that could ever happen? If they say it makes your story unbelievable? Or it takes them out of the story... or whatever.

And, as a reader, what do you do when you're asked to suspend reality just a little further than usual? Can you?


Judy said...

No matter what I might have said in critiques (in case I'm one of the ones who said, 'that is just so unbelievable';-))... I think I would leave it in until and unless an editor and/or agent said, "yanno, I really like this book, but imho I just can't get past so-and-so." It IS said that truth is stranger than fiction.

That being said, as a reader, I willingly suspend logic and reality as long as I've gotten involved with the characters and the action. If I'm engaged, it takes a mighty big jolt to take me out of it. Of course, big jolts are relative. If, for a wild instance, someone were to place the story in my hometown (okay, let's talk about suspending, and they talk about going east on Main Street, that would jolt me out, because I know Main Street runs north and south. So... in a location I know well, mistakes of that nature can throw me. But, in regards to plot, I am much more willing to join in the game and play.

A bit rambly this morning, huh?

olbmkzen--- Old library books make keeping Zoe entertained necessary.

Pam said...


As a writer, I might be tempted to throw in a tiny caveat...something that recognizes that the reader might do a double take, but I'd assure her it's okay.

As a reader, I think a writer gets two or three chances to make me go hmmm, cuz I'm prepared to believe even though whatever it is might not be my usual experience. How boring would it be to only read about everything you already know all the time? So, as long as the story is entertaining, I'm there.

But then, if I experience a gigantic hmm, gigantic in the sense a major plot turn depends on it, then there's a good chance I'll set the book down and not pick it up for awhile, if ever.

I was reading a mystery and the protagonist's boyfriend is a cop and he asked her to accompany him to talk to either a survivor or witness. That gave me pause.

Probably if it's a small town MAYBE that would okay, but it did, like Judy said, throw me out of the book into thinking how could that be good police practice. And I don't know for sure. Could be cops do it when necessary--maybe it's a case of whatever it takes. I'll have to ask a cop.

News of any kind is a terrific source of story ideas. I'll check out those extra news sites you mentioned, Maria. Thanks!

Tori Lennox said...

Like Judy said, truth really IS stranger than fiction. But I can usually suspend my disbelief without much trouble.

tsmgyqm - Tony swears my goose yelled, "Quiet, Mack!"

Allie Boniface said...

Well, I'm one of the cynical ones, I guess. I need to be pretty involved with the characters and/or love the writing if I'm going to suspend disbelief. If something in a novel gives me pause, and I have to spend a minute or two arguing with myself about whether it could or could not have happened, then the author has lost me for a while. That is not to say that I won't keep reading, because a lot of times I will, just to see if the author can draw me back in and convince me to love the storyline all the same. I think there is a fine line to walk between finding originality and good conflict and taking it too far, whether or not the event could actually have happened.