Readers as Accomplices

Readers as Accomplices 

“All readers come to fiction as willing accomplices to your lies. Such is the basic goodwill contract made the moment we pick up a work of fiction.”

— Steve Almond

Many people talk about fiction in terms of truth and lies. While “lies” can feel like a harsh word to describe the act of storytelling, it is true that fiction writers find themselves in a unique position to twist and bend reality in a way that few other people can get away with.  

Readers come to your work open and ready for anything. They’re willing to suspend disbelief and get caught up in whatever world you’ve created. Now, it’s your job (this is the hard part) to keep them believing.

Just because your readers come to your book with an open attitude, that doesn’t mean they’ll blindly accept whatever you throw at them. Your readers are smart and perceptive, so you have to make sure your story is crafted in such a way that they don’t start to doubt your story and lose interest.

If you’re worried about readers questioning certain elements of your story, try letting a character within the story ask those same questions. When Harry Potter questions whether or not he could actually be a wizard, the reader doesn’t have to. Allowing your readers to experience their doubts through the thoughts and actions of your characters will help them to keep going along for the ride. At the same time, your story must be confident in its descriptions; immerse your readers in the strangeness so completely and with such boldness that they can’t help but get swept up in the magic and wonder.

How do you help your readers suspend disbelief?

There’s much to be said about the craft of writing. That’s why each week on the Abbott Press blog, we’ll take a look at what some of our favorite authors and thinkers have to say about this challenging, fulfilling and sometimes mystifying art. We hope these discussions will help you to further refine your own ideas about writing and to achieve new insights into your own creative process. Browse Weekly Writing Quotes »