Writing a book can inspire very strange conversations, especially when that book isn’t centered in reality as we know it.
The reality of the book should have its own rules, for what is reality if not a consistency of experience, the blending of the physical and metaphysical into an established congeal of, well, everything.
A book does not offer a totality of a world, but a glimpse into it. And that glimpse should be consistent. You don’t have to lay the ground rules for everything, but you do have to lay the ground rules for everything the reader is going to glimpse. And in doing so, you must also lay the ground rules for things the reader may never even think about, but those things must be established because firstly they give a truth to the things the reader does see, like how an iceberg is very real and seen above the surface only because of the existence of the bulk of it below the waves.
And second, who’s to say where the readers eye may wander?
The writer guides, walks a fine line between hand holding and herding, but you can’t put blinders on the reader. A good world, a true world, is one established well beyond the boundaries of where the story is actually written.
And so a good story doesn’t excuse inconsistencies by saying, “A wizard did it!”
Unless a wizard actually did.
Do you see my point there?
If a thing seems wild and unbelievable, suspension of disbelief can be achieved if you give sufficient reason.
For instance, lets say you have a girl who eats piece of mushroom and it shrinks her.
If her clothes shrink too and you don’t mention why, that’s unreasonable.
One of three things will happen to the reader.
First, they might not notice. If this is the case, chances are it’ll have a fridge logic effect. That’s when you don’t notice an inconsistency at the time, but later on when doing something completely different it smacks you. It’s a time delay thing, and happens to a large percentage of those who fall into this first category. TV shows and movies get away with this more than books, because a book is a much more intimate thing, and by its very nature is a thing to be thought about.
Second, they notice but they don’t care. If this happens, your reader is apologizing for you. Do you really want your readers making excuses for your book’s problems? Do you want them feeling sorry for your book?
If they notice and they don’t make excuses, well that’s even worse. At least if they apologize for you that means they care about the story. If not, chances are they’ve moved beyond apathy into hating it.
Third, they notice and they wonder why. This is where the people in the first category end up after fridge logic, but it’s also the place you sometimes actually want your readers to be.
Yes, you want them there, but only for a short time! A good story that dabbles in the fantastic will have these things subtly explained to the reader so that they’ll know without knowing, and when they encounter something fantastic they’ll have a basis for why it’s okay.
A reason for the unreasonable.
And yet there are times when you want that doubt, that little hint of ‘What the?’ or ‘Ah ha!’ to linger just for a moment, before an explanation is offered up.
I’m not talking about an explanation that completely smacks them in the face, or that a character awkwardly delivers in a monologue. No one likes to be talked down to. You’ve invited a stranger into your strange land, and they journey there on their own will. Treat them nicely, and with respect.
Yes, fuck with their emotions and take them on a roller coaster of hating you and loving you, make them wet and sticky and make them boil with rage, warm and fuzzy and whatever else you feel like.
But don’t talk down to them. That’s just insulting. They pay your bills, and even if they hate you they should love you.
So really, when done sparingly and to great effect, a lampshade isn’t too bad every now and then.
So why should a person’s clothes shrink along with her?
The mushroom’s magic, silly.
But, that’s not enough of a reason. And so we must establish rules for it. And thus a conversation happens where it’s discussed exactly what the rules are for magic mushroom shrinking.
Obviously, the clothes shrink because they’re touching the person. So does anything else the person touches shrink as well? Sure!
But what if they’re wearing socks? Then they aren’t touching their shoes. So do the shoes shrink?
What if they have change in their pocket?
If their shoes and change shrink, what about the floor they are transitively touching?
And does the bit of mushroom shrink? Does it have to be ingested?
What if you remove an article of clothing from the person. Like say, she takes off her shoe. Does the shoe instantly get bigger because it’s no longer being touched? Does the shoe get bigger when she gets bigger because even though it’s now independent of her it’s still under the sway of the spell effecting her? Or could she eat more mushroom and get bigger, while the seperate shoe has to wait for the effects to wear off naturally?
And how does all that relate to killing a demented dormouse with a shard of mushroom coated glass?
Well now, I guess you’ll have to wait and see. :D