A fascinating question was posed in one of my networking groups:
Whose responsibility is it to suspend disbelief, the writer’s or the reader’s?
I think the kneejerk response would be that it’s the writer’s. But my feeling is that it’s a shared burden, that the burden of “suspending disbelief” is on the writer to create a believable story, yes, but also on the reader who needs to agree to accept the rules of the author’s literary world.
Then it becomes a balancing act. Throughout a book, the writer needs to be careful not to overstep his limits or take advantage of the reader’s generosity — I mean, we’ve all read books where at some point we think: Okay, Ms. Author, you had me all this time, but THAT could never happen! By the same token, the reader needs to resist the urge to be fickle, or moody, or decide that he or she is not going to buy into this world anymore.
This question actually reminds me of something the Pre-Cana priest told my husband and me when we were getting married: “If you are going to agree to a decision or a rule, then you can’t arbitrarily change the rules ( think “writers”) or begin to criticize that rule (think “readers”) later on.”
A formula for success. After all, I’ve been married for nearly 18 years.