Spill the Tea: The suspense of belief…

How is your suspense of belief?

Mine is an interesting convolution.

See, give me a Disney/Ghibli/animated film and my suspense of belief is on, anything goes (you’d have to be really bad at making a film to break this magic).  But then, give me film with actors in it, and that is when it gets interesting.


If the film/tv show is set in real history time and it isn’t meant to be comedy (for example, Blackadder is set in historical points but it is comedy/humour and as such suspense of belief works) then my suspense of belief struggles. My engineer self goes bonkers when cars, planes, and other mechanical things don’t work. Or when you decide to replace sulfur with hydrogen in mustard gas (impossible, as it would not bond, hydrogen doesn’t hold together two sides, it is more like the end caps of molecules). Then I just can’t cope with it. Or when you take history and place it as a “historical” reality but change things.

Once again, it is one thing to tell me this is History but with Zombies/Vampires/Whatever. It is another to tell me this is history as is but things changed because the Zombie was suddenly there.

I think what breaks the suspense of belief is when they try SO hard to make it convincing, going into all the little details (like mentioning that it is hydrogen that they will use instead of sulfur, why not just say that you’ve got it and scribble a formula in gibberish?), and then those little details to make it more convincing are wrong. A simple google search could easily fix those little things and making them more real wouldn’t take away from the film or take you years to research. I don’t expect them to know everything, but that is why there are consultants (like Numb3rs or Big Bang Theory consult with scientists to make it as realistic as possible).

But that is regarding films., what about books?

I will use A Wrinkle in Time (AWiT) by Madeleine L’Engle and Throne of Glass (ToG) by SJM as my examples, I do not intend to offend or cause issues *white flag up*.


AWiT talks science all the way through, it talks about dimensions, physics, tesseracts, string theory and some really complex ideas, but at the same time it has fantastical creatures and IT. Two completely opposing parts. Yet the science in AWiT is real, it is just what you would learn in school/degree/book/internet. And because the science is so well done, the parts that require suspense of belief work. They make sense somehow.

On the other hand we have ToG. You have the most amazing assasin that survived a terrible slave camp/prison at just 18. However, she doesn’t act like someone who has lived through all of it, eating random sweets without checking for poison, and she keeps being found sleeping/snoring by several characters. It doesn’t make sense. If she is the best assasin in the realm, how is it that the basics of protecting your life and being suspicious as technically anyone may want to kill you, aren’t there? In this case my suspense of belief breaks and I just can’t understand why she is the best when basics aren’t covered, which then makes the more complex parts of the story harder to accept.

Have you noticed you struggle with your suspense of belief when reading books or watching films? Or is it just me?


Fill this sky with stars...