The Writer’s World v. The Real World or: Suspension of Disbelief

I read a lot of fun and funny articles written by virologists, engineers, physicians, firearms instructors, and others in STEM careers who like to educate on real science versus what you see in the movies. I enjoy those articles because they’re useful and they teach valuable lessons to the masses about the wonderful world we all live in at the moment.

But does that mean writers are stupid? That we don’t get it?

Well, maybe.

I can’t say that I have a PhD in anything. I know psychology up and down and can work with writing mental disorders from both sides of the couch. I do that in The Psych Writer series quite often (and that’s something I’ll be writing about again soon, I promise). But when it comes to firearms, virology and immunology, physics, chemistry, veterinary studies, pharmacy, or any trade requiring an expert, I don’t know squat.

So I do research, and I learn. But sometimes what’s real and what’s proper just isn’t going to fit my story. I might need something to explode when my character shoots it and you’ll never know if she used regular shot or whatever. I might need someone to catch a bullet mid-air and be relatively unscathed from the experience. Those things aren’t real. They’re not going to happen. That’s probably a good thing.

Also there are not giant tentacle inter-dimensional monsters the last time I checked, nor is the country I live in divided into Territories rather than States. Also in my world women were recognized for their scientific achievements early on, and white people didn’t dominate the planet with colonialism.

The writer’s world is not often our same (or sane) world. For me, I purposefully divorced the Silver Hollow world from this real one so that you’d know you weren’t in Kansas anymore. Or wherever the hell you are while you read this. You get the point.

Sometimes writers just have to make it up as we go along, too. I’m currently writing a story that takes place in my world in 1902. Paper cups weren’t invented in our world until 1907. But guess what? My main character is using paper cups. That’s not a goof. I write things this way on purpose. I have to sit down and ask myself what the world would be like in a place where germ theory was accepted earlier because “sin” wasn’t a concept. I have to wonder about a world where money is king rather than the false construct of race. I need to think about how ways my world differs from my real one.

So if you read something that isn’t accurate, seems strange, or is otherwise wrong in this world, please, consider that it was likely done with a purpose. As a wonderful scientist friend of mine (and cracking good writer, by the way) said: “As a scientist, I am fine with this. I don’t want to read a technical bulletin. I do enough of that 9-5. I want to escape.”

As a writer, I’m happy to provide readers with an escape.


I like to write often about things that hopefully couldn’t ever happen in our world. If you’d like to point out how inaccurate my writing is (because it is, most likely), you can do it on my Facebook or Twitter page. I might just refer you back here, though.

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