Another Column at MyShelf.Com

Between the pages, Past
A Mystery Column
By Dennis Collins


When mystery writers get together they often like to discuss a thing called, The Suspension of Disbelief, which means they are asking the reader to accept a plot or story line that would be highly unlikely to play out in the real world. I like to compare it to the special effects in motion pictures where the hero jumps the gap in a rising drawbridge in his hopped up Camaro. It simply couldn’t happen but you just saw it right there on the screen and you accepted it. It might even be the only scene you remember from the whole movie.

It’s a little trickier in the written word. A skilled writer primes his readers and builds a crescendo leading up to the parts that require an imagination stretcher. Some authors are very good at it.

I’ve been reviewing mysteries for a few years and have seen story after story with impossible plots become big sellers. My question is, “When will the public get tired of it? When will they demand reality?” Conventional wisdom says, “Probably never.” People read mystery fiction to escape reality and that’s a thirst that is very difficult to quench. The wise writer provides that escape.

When I write, I always strive for a little more reality. I guess it’s just a personal preference but I have an easier time accepting a story that is supported by logic and explained in credible terms. I’m the type who prefers neat packages with no ambiguous motives.

I once had an editor tell me that my eighty thousand word manuscript was too unbelievable because it had three coincidences in it. Talk about a nitpicker! I have reviewed several highly rated novels that have had dozens of coincidences in them but nobody was complaining because the author was a well established and successful writer.

What it really boils down to though is, “Were you entertained and did you enjoy the story?” Satisfied customers; that’s what all authors are shooting for.



2009 Past Columns


© MyShelf.Com. All Rights Reserved.