High school senior Michael Sattler leads a charmed life. He’s a star athlete, has great friends, and parents who love him just the way he is. What’s missing from his life is a boyfriend. That’s a problem because he’s out only to his parents and best friend. When Michael accidentally bumps into Christy Castle at school, his life changes in ways he never imagined. Christy is Michael’s dream guy: smart, pretty, and sexy. But nothing could have prepared Michael for what being Christy’s boyfriend would entail.
Christy needs to heal after years of abuse and knows he needs help to do it. After the death of his notorious father, he leaves his native Greece and settles in upstate New York. Alone, afraid, and left without a voice, Christy hides the myriad scars of his abuse. He desperately wants to be loved and when he meets Michael, he dares to hope that day has arrived. When one of Michael’s team-mates becomes an enemy and an abuser from Christy’s past seeks to return him to a life of slavery, only Michael and Christy’s combined strength and unwavering determination can save them from the violence that threatens to destroy their future together.
Cody Talks about Writing Action and the Suspension of Disbelief in Story Telling
Suspension of disbelief or willing suspension of disbelief is a term coined in 1817 by the poet and aesthetic philosopher Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who suggested that if a writer could infuse a “human interest and a semblance of truth” into a fantastic tale, the reader would suspend judgment concerning the implausibility of the narrative. Suspension of disbelief often applies to fictional works of the action, comedy, fantasy, and horror genres. The phrase “suspension of disbelief” came to be used more loosely in the later 20th century, often used to imply that the burden was on the reader, rather than the writer, to achieve it. These fictional premises may also lend to the engagement of the mind and perhaps proposition of thoughts, ideas, art and theories. (Wiki)
Writing high action into any work requires that an author consider genre and the length to which s/he expects an audience to suspend disbelief. In writing fantasy, a reader expects to embrace action engendered by magic or superpowers with open arms. In writing a contemporary story, not so much. Unless, of course, you’re writing for Jason Bourne. Then, anything is possible.
When I set out to write Omorphi, and as I mentioned in the blog post on Madison Parker’s blog, I wanted to write a story that included a lot of action. I didn’t want to take Omorphi to the level of a Bond, Bourne, or a Mission Alwayspossible film, but I did want to give readers a thrill and an imaginary ride. Also, when I set out to write what borders on the fantastic, I often remind myself not to take the suspension of disbelief too far.
There are a few scenes in Omorphi where I ran the risk of pushing it too far. The one that stands out most in my mind is Jason’s attack on Christy’s cabin. When Jason attacks the cabin, he impersonates a delivery person and bangs loudly on the door in an effort to get someone to open it. As Michael opens the door ajar, Jason throws a Molotov cocktail through the front window setting the cabin and Christy afire, then shoves the door open and into Michael. Michael trips and begins to fall backwards as Jason aims a gun at his chest and fires. Michael turns fast enough to avoid taking a bullet to the chest but not to his arm. Security guards tackle Jason from behind, it turns into a brawl, yet Michael works his way out from beneath the fight and hurries to aid Christy who is batting at the flames on his hip.
Phew! Just recapping that scene tires me out. In creating a scene such as the one above, I had to be realistic and ask myself how many evils Jason could perpetrate at one time. Was it realistic for him to have stolen a delivery service uniform? Yes. Was it realistic for Jason to be armed with a Molotov cocktail? Yes. Was it realistic for Jason to be armed with a Molotov cocktail and a gun? Can happen. Was it reasonable for Christy to catch fire? Given a flammable liquid, yes. Was it realistic for Michael to trip backward? Yes. Was it realistic that Michael turned fast enough to avoid a bullet to the chest? Yes. Reflexes can be fast, yet it whispers along the boundaries of the imagination. Was it realistic for Michael to work himself from beneath Jason and the guards while they’re fighting? Yes, but again, it skates close to the boundaries of imagination. Finally, was it realistic that Jason got away? Because he shot a guard, absolutely.
There were several opportunities to run amuck with this scene, both by adding elements and by taking the wrong ones away. Let’s take the gun away from Jason and see what happens. Once Jason throws the Molotov cocktail through the window, he leaps through the broken window (with the greatest of ease and doesn’t even suffer a scratch) while flammable liquid spatters and flames lick at him (but he doesn’t catch fire) and physically attacks Christy in a pile of flammable liquid and flames (but still doesn’t catch fire). Unfortunate Michael (who was spattered with flammable liquid and is also aflame) looks on in shock and horror, and has no idea what to do because he and Christy are burning (but Jason isn’t). Michael’s brain kicks in and he doesn’t care that he’s aflame, he’ll save Christy at all costs. He proceeds to attack Jason (who still doesn’t catch fire), Michael and Christy succumb to flame and (oh, yeah, I forgot) smoke (but Jason doesn’t), Jason is satisfied they’re dead, and makes his escape through the broken window now fully engulfed in flames (but still doesn’t catch fire or suffer a scratch) before the security guards show up. Where were the security guards? Why didn’t Jason catch fire? Because he needed to get away! Did you want him running down the street on fire? I suppose I could have written it that way. Maybe. NOT.
The moral to this post is: You don’t have to be entirely realistic, but you must be reasonable. Readers are not ignorant and if you press them to suspend disbelief too far, they’ll throw your book across the room before finishing it and likely never pick it up again.
Raised on the mean streets and back lots of Hollywood by a Yoda-look-alike grandfather, Cody Kennedy doesn’t conform, doesn’t fit in, is epic awkward and lives to perfect a deep-seated oppositional defiance disorder. In a constant state of fascination with the trivial, Cody contemplates such weighty questions as: If time and space are curved, then where do all the straight people come from? When not writing, Cody can be found taming waves on western shores, pondering the nutritional value of sunsets, appreciating the much maligned dandelion, unhooking guide ropes from stanchions, and marveling at all things ordinary.
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October 20th – Cody’s Blog – Omorphi’s One Month Anniversary Trivia Contest!
To make things even more exciting, a new contest will begin on October 21st on The Novel Approach Reviews Blog to win an ebook copy of Cody’s novella, Safe, due out October 24th from Harmony Ink Press!
Get ready to read and win!