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Quotes / Willing Suspension of Disbelief

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Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn't.

What really happens is that the story-maker proves a successful "sub-creator". He makes a Secondary World which your mind can enter. Inside it, what he relates is "true;" it accords with the laws of that world. You therefore believe it, while you are, as it were, inside. The moment disbelief arises, the spell is broken; the magic, or rather art, has failed. You are then out in the Primary World again, looking at the little abortive Secondary World from outside.
J. R. R. Tolkien, "On Fairy-Stories"

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It's just you and the audience — hundreds of people — and you've got just one chance, just once chance, to convince them that it's real. There's a magic moment where you can make them believe anything because they already want to. They're there and ready and you just have to take them the rest of the way.
Ben Cato, The Dreamer

I'm not having anyone staring in disbelief at my willing suspension!

Probable impossibilities are to be preferred to improbable possibilities.

How can a woods contain a forest? Suspension of disbelief, that's how.

It was agreed that my endeavours should be directed to persons and characters supernatural, or at least romantic; yet so as to translate our inward nature a human interest and a semblance of truth sufficient to procedure for these shadows of imagination willing suspension of disbelief for the moment, which constitutes poetic faith.
William Taylor Coleridge, Biographia Literaria

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Suspension of disbelief doesn't throw away all logic. It just allows me to believe that there are people that can run really fast or aliens that can shapeshift living among humans.

At a certain point, it's just a deal between the director and the audience where he basically pauses the movie and says, "Look, if you want to see some more cool action scenes, just initial here that it's OK that the alien computers run on MacOS for some reason." And you go, "OK," and he goes back to blowing things up for you.

Nor need their strange worlds, when we get there, be at all tied to scientific probabilities. It is the wonder, or beauty, or suggestiveness that matters. When I myself put canals on Mars, I believe I already knew that telescopes had dissipated that old optical illusion. The point was that they were part of the Martian myth as it existed in the common mind.
C. S. Lewis, "On Science Fiction"

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What do you know?! Haven't you heard of suspension of disbelief?

I know you’re meant to suspend your disbelief in a horror film about what is survivable and for how long, but watching a man with a gushing head wound – i.e. a knife straight into the brain – stumble around for a while and still have the mental capacity to utter "fuck you Bruce Willis" before he falls down dead is the point where I say "fuck you movie."

"Willing suspension of disbelief" does not mean "Hang by the neck until dead".

I know full well I'm expected to Suspend My Disbelief. Unfortunately, my disbelief is very heavy, and during "Ocean's Thirteen," the suspension cable snapped.

I used to lose sleep over this, but then I realized if there's enough interesting things going on in a big budget epic sci-fi film, then you can distract me from all the science you're getting wrong."

The trick comes down to this: How do you make a ridiculous scenario (talking, colorful animal-people fighting a ponderously large madman) engaging enough to read regularly? The answer: A tricky balancing act where the reader isn't necessarily supposed to take it seriously, but the characters of the world do. If the characters believe themselves to be in peril, then their honesty will inspire the reader to believe them. But at the same time, the writer has to craft it so that the reader is looking upon all this in an accessible fashion; we can't just assume the reader will be immediately invested and believe in the ridiculous scenario [...] But the writer can only do so much. It's also part of the reader's job to approach the material in the right mindset. If the reader is looking for a grand, sweeping anthropomorphic saga, or a GRIMDARK study of slavery and the theme of Nature vs. Industry, or if the reader simply isn't going to allow themselves to enjoy such high fantasy, then there's nothing the writer can do to entertain theme.

Road House is the kind of movie that leaves reality so far behind that you have to accept it on its own terms.

Let's talk for a moment about "illusion" [...] Illusion is a necessary part of entertainment; it is, for instance, a key part of the suspension of disbelief. Suspension of disbelief is frequently required in fiction, and sometimes, when someone will defend a work, they'll say: "You never heard of the suspension of disbelief?" snobbishly, because stupid people are incapable of saying stupid things in any other way. Suspension of disbelief, though, is a two way street; the audience must be prepared to extend it, but the artist must also work to sustain it. Any audience that comes to the work has already — probably — made the effort. So, in those cases, when it's lost, the artist is to blame. Maintaining the illusion is their job. If you suddenly make me realize that I'm just watching a movie, because you've said or done something, that's your fault, not mine. That is because, for the most part, we want to be fooled by the illusion; that's why we've come here.

And besides, I remember what Wells said; Wells said that if there is a fantastic fact, it should be the only fantastic fact in the story, because the reader's imagination -especially now- does not accept many fantastic facts at once. For example, he has that book: The War of the Worlds, which deals with an invasion of Martians. He wrote this at the end of the last century, and then he has another book written by that date: The invisible man. Now, in those books, all the circumstances, except for that capital fact of an invasion of beings from another planetsomething in which nobody had thought then, and now we see it as posible- and an invisible man, all this is surrounded by trivial circumstances to help the reader's imagination, since the reader tends to be incredulous now. But despite having invented it, Wells would have ruled out -seeing it as difficult to execute- an invasion of this planet by invisible Martians, because that is already demanding too much; which is the error of scientific fiction today, which accumulates prodigies and we do not believe in any of them.
Jorge Luis Borges, Dialogues.


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