As I write this, I am sitting on the couch trying to convince my 19-year-old she will not die because some huge fire ants bit her foot. I also commented that MOST people don’t kill ant beds while barefoot. She’s not listening, though, because we also found a huge ant (that sucker was over 1/4 inch long) in the house. Now she is convinced the ants “know who she is” and are “coming to get her.” This same child has been trying to convince my husband and me that Elon Musk is evil and “planning something” which includes the destruction of planet Earth. She used to believe COVID vaccines contain miniscule bits of metal allowing the government to track the vaccinated until we let her put a magnet to our arms and it didn't stay put. Critical thinking is not her forte, unless she is parsing any parental statement, suggestion, or rule.
Excessive drama aside, I do envy her ability to suspend disbelief. Most authors depend on a reader’s ability to suspend disbelief at least partially. The tough part is giving the reader enough details to let them enter your world while remaining consistent with your own vision of the mystery you want them to experience. And if you ask a reader to suspend disbelief for a particular situation, setting or event, you need to be consistent. Don’t ask them to suspend disbelief for one thing then throw in something contradictory. For example, a dog walker investigates crime better than the local police can but then the police solve the crime without the dog walker’s assistance.
With certain settings, the idea of suspension of disbelief applies even when the details are true. Just because something happened in real life doesn’t mean readers will believe it. A city dweller may not believe a law firm in a small town would leave its back door unlocked so the strange man who has spent every day for years wandering the courthouse square muttering to himself can slip in to get his daily coffee. Having worked in the law firm where it happened, I know it is 100% true. And since I plan for someone based on him to be a major character in my next novel, I must find a way to either make that believable or convince my reader to suspend their own disbelief.
What books have you read that made suspending your disbelief easy? What stories do you write that ask the reader to suspend their disbelief, and over what issues?