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Make me believe you

Lately, I’ve had an unusual number of people say things to me like, ‘It’s fantasy, so it doesn’t have to be believable.” Stuff like this makes giant rows of exclamation marks and question marks explode in my head. It always has to be believable. Always.

Now I don’t go about my daily life thinking there’s a possibility that I might get sucked into an alternate realm, or be bitten by a sexy vampire, or get caught in the middle of a wizard duel. But if I’m reading a book in which one of these things exists, I want to believe that, for the purpose of the story, it’s real. If I pick up an epic fantasy, and am happily reading along, cheering for your characters as they ride along on horses and hack each other up with swords, I will be very confused if suddenly, with no explanation, someone has a machine gun. Unless your sword-wielders have collided with a world where they have more advanced technology, I won’t understand, and I’ll stop believing in the world you’ve created. And I don’t think I have to explain why that’s not a good thing.

When writing fantasy, it’s so easy to get caught up in the idea that you can do whatever you want. It’s part of the fun of fantasy. There can be mutants and demons and dragons and fiery beasts. Anything your crazy mind can come up with. But it all needs to make sense in the context of your story. Is there a reason your main character suddenly has the ability to turn her arms into flaming swords, or is it only in there because it’s a convenient way to get her out of whatever mess she’s in?

Readers are obviously going into fantasy with the knowledge that they’re going to be transcending reality, but they’ll only go with you so far. Don't push them over the edge!
Kaitlin Ward

Kaitlin Ward is the author of Bleeding Earth, Adaptive Books 2016, and The Farm, coming 2017 from Scholastic.

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  1. This is so true!! Even if it's an altered reality, that reality has to be consistent! Awesome post, Kaitlin! And the picture is fantastic!!

  2. *passes out from the hilariousness of the photo*

    And I wholeheartedly agree. You must create a universe will laws, and abide by those laws; otherwise you leave readers flailing.

    On a very unexpected tangent, I disliked the film the Grudge for similar reasons: bad ghost can kill you. not just in the house, but anywhere. any way. so what exactly do I have to root for?

    wanted to get that out lol

  3. Totally agree. I like my reality to have a foundation and a good reason why it may just be true (like Harry Potter kinda made me nervous of old men in case they were wizards).

    And, you're so cruel to your dog. I think I'm going to do that to a picture of YOU. (Yes, I have pictures of you. I took them of you when you were sleeping last night... *strokes secret camera*).

  4. Haha! I believe in the moose dog from outer space, I believe!!

    Great post, Kaitlin! It drives me crazy when I'm expected to suspend belief for no good reason. I won't do it. I simply won't.

  5. The picture was so much better before I had to cut off part of the background in the interest of not making the picture massive!

  6. Aw, poor puppy! That's too cute!

    And great post, Kaitlin! The worst excuse ever is "it's fiction, I can do whatever I want." I once heard something say "then in that case, Tolkien should've just had Frodo fed-ex the ring to Mordor."


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Item Reviewed: Make me believe you Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Kaitlin Ward