…so, Authors… my scientist pal, Ilka Emig asks just how much can yeez suspend readers’ credibility…

…terrific point of discussion Guest Post from Copywriter, Blogger and Scientist pal, Ilka Emig, today…



How Much Made-Up Science Can You Use In Your Books?

Don’t we all love Jurassic Park, Spider Man and stories about time traveling?

Don’t we all accept that blood of a dinosaur can be kept liquid and intact inside an insect while this insect is preserved inside amber for 66 million years?

And don’t we accept that the bite of a spider can lead to this spider’s DNA mixing with a teenager’s DNA; turning this teenager into a human with spider abilities?

And please be honest! Don’t you dream sometimes of being beamed up by Scotty?

I surely am!

But I also wonder if there is a limit to science and ideas authors can make up? Is there a point when the reader is in disbelief and not willing to go down the road the author offers in his/her fiction writing?

Not all made-up science is believable

We just read a book in our book club where one of the main figures died in the middle of the book and went to a weird made-up after death place. She started to interact with her family from there and talked to us readers from there as well. Everyone hated it. It was too confusing and too strange!

And to give an example of a famous ‘not-believable’ movie, ‘signs’ would be the one. I felt fooled when Aliens, who have the ability, technology and knowledge to travel through space to earth to destroy it, died of water drops at the end. They honestly did not check the composition of the earth? They did not see that earth is 70% water? Water, the element that is deadly to them? They just jumped out of their space ship with no protection to be destroyed by water? Unbelievable!

Interestingly, there are not as many examples of bad use of made-up science as there are examples of books and movies that get away with it. The reason could be that bad books are just not remembered. Just like the book we read in our book cub that will be forgotten soon – hopefully.

Everyone is allowed to decide

Dan Brown on the other hand is an example of a master of mixing facts with fiction. Starting a Dan Brown book you as the reader should know that the journey will take you through fact and total fiction alike. But as a reader you can also decide to just accept everything that is presented or to actually do some research if you want to be sure what is fact and what is not.

Most people decide to accept fiction and made-up science!

Most people love fiction that is close to possible and opens fascinating doors.

Most people love seeing the dinosaurs we usually see only as skeletons, being alive, interacting with each other – and us!

Most people love to learn about a different time as a time traveler. One who thinks like them and presents the funny moments of modern thinking and behavior clashing with the thinking and behavior of that time.

So what is the conclusion now?

As long as a story is well written and believable presented the reader is ready to be transformed into the story.

This leaves the responsibility with the author to create a story that draws the reader in.

And to write this story in a way that respects the reader’s wish to be part of the story.

The reader is not stupid.

The reader is just willingly accepting good made-up science together with all the other fiction of the story.

Ilka Emig is a crazy but lovable scientist who’s on a mission to make science simple and fun for everyone. Join her quirky fun blog at http://simplyilka.com/welcome/  and follow her antics on Twitter @simplyilka.

…thanks for getting my wee grey cells jumping again, m’Lady, Ilka… well, let us know… whaddya think, quill-scrapers?… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!



Filed under Blether, Scribbling & Stuff

21 responses to “…so, Authors… my scientist pal, Ilka Emig asks just how much can yeez suspend readers’ credibility…

  1. I write fantasy, so my explanations tend to be on the magical side. I think for my genre, it depends on if the events that require suspension of disbelief fit within the fictional system. For example, there has to be some reason why most casters need words to create a fireball while one does it with hand gestures. Sounds like an odd example, but fans of the genre will leap on system inconsistencies.

    I’ve seen a lot of people taking science fiction and tearing it apart with reality. Several of my friends were flipping out over ‘Lucy’ continuing the 10% brain usage falsehood. They refused to give the money a chance because of that. I still haven’t seen it, but I’ve been told that it’s entertaining if you don’t go in with an agenda. So I’m starting to wonder if people are more into retaining their disbelief than suspending it.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. That reminds me of the scene from Firefly (Space Western/SciFi) where Wash says, “Psychic? That sounds like something out of science fiction.” To which his wife replies, “You live in a spaceship, dear.” It’s all about the context.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. If something is an enjoyable read, not too unbelievable, doesn’t make aliens too stupid if they found their way here, etc., I’ll suspend my belief. I always loved Godzilla, King Kong, Star Trek, Star Wars, etc. I think they’re fun. I’ve been suspending belief since Looney Tunes and Disney. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I think that if the story is involving enough and the characters are believable we don’t mind to be taken for a ride…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: How Much Made-Up Science Can You Use In Your Books? simplyilka

  6. Sali Osman

    Well done Ilka

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I agree with everyone else in that the reader will only go where they want to go. Another point-things we once saw as science fiction are now reality; and who knows what truths can come out of today’s science fiction? Consider this: “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world and all there ever will be to know and understand.”–Albert Einstein
    Slange! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Great post. I love getting caught up in a book or movie and I’m able to suspend my version of reality to do that. Much of it comes down to the believability of the the characters’ actions and emotions. If the feel or do something that just seems completely odd to me, I’m popped out of the story. But that doesn’t apply only to sci-fi/fantasy. The conversation and long kiss that occurs – while the building is falling down and the bad guys are closing in – drives me crazy! Ha ha.

    Liked by 1 person

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