If you read, there is an element of suspending disbelief in every type of writing – fiction and nonfiction.
Everything that is written depends on the readers to be seduced by your idea. Your idea(s) is influenced and built according to your own personal point of view and experience. Whether you are selling a business idea or building a world, the person who is reading or listening to you is giving you a finite amount of time for you to seduce them over to your world (Somebody listened to the person who came of with up the derivative algorithms that contributed to the 2008 financial crisis).
Suspending disbelief is an act of faith. Faith that your audience will invest their precious time in your words. An article on the website TVTropes.org says:
An author’s work, in other words, does not have to be realistic, only believable and internally consistent (see Magic A Is Magic A). When the author pushes an audience beyond what they’re willing to accept, the work fails in the eyes of that particular audience. — Willing Suspension of Disbelief
The world you build doesn’t have to resemble anything in our world. It’s a fine line between being accepted by the audience/reader and making them angry. This is why there are so many opinions regarding book adaptations to movies and television. Successful adaptations engages the audience while bringing to life the words on a page. Nitpickers will exist (always) that will tear apart abook, a film, or TV program, because what they saw was another persons vision that didn’t align with their own internal version of the story.
A talented writer or director can circumvent the wrath of readers as they persuade the audience into seeing the world their way. It is YOUR responsibility to give the reader/audience a reason to step into your world.
Here are some tips from ‘Worldbuilding 101: On Suspension of Disbelief‘:
- Inject Interest: Don’t be that writer who records every step, burp, and smile of the character. Make that walk to the bathroom count. Let the character be interrupted in their journey and create consequences. Unless it contributes to the worldbuilding, you DO NOT need to give the audience a blow-by-blow of the action.
- Science/Magic is logical: Don’t throw things at me. I once read a quote that said magic is simply science we don’t understand. Make your science and magic stick to the rules. Don’t have water flowing up to the sky without a reason specific to the world you are building. Don’t let the wave of a wand fix everything.
- Be Consistent: When wordbuilding, be consistent in your application of rules. If rules are broken by the character, it needs to be clear as to the ‘why’. Not being consistent in your world is the fastest way to loose an audience.
Building a world that draw the audience in, whether familiar or exotic, might be difficult but worth it. Take the time to understand your world and its rules.
Entice your audience to join you in your world and give them a reason to stay.