Writing Exercise: Belief Coins

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In May, I ranted about Belief Coins, how there is only so much suspension of belief with a reader. Some of the breaks from reality are “discounted” because of the tropes of the genre: happily ever after in romance, heroic hero of thrillers, and solvable mysteries in the cozies. But because a trope is accepted in one genre does not mean a writer gets to hand wave and have it work in a different genre. Insta-love can appear in science fiction, but there had better be a reason for it, such as genetic programming predisposition supported by the psychic hive-mind of the humans colonists created by integration into the planet’s biosphere. Yes, that long explanation carries a whole bunch of hand-waving … but it builds a frame to explain the insta-love trope which isn’t a free coin.

Another example is Superman. I wrote about my problems with a Superman movie a while ago – where I was thrown out of the story because of disbelief; my ability to believe the impossible had been destroyed because of my inability to believe the improbable. Between normals breathing underwater for screaming, established worldbuilding thrown out the window, and character development being ignored, The Man of Steel did not buy a single Belief Coin needed to support the magic of the superhero trope.

So how can a writer buy Belief Coins? By making as much of the rest of the story grounded in reality. A ghost story? Have the main character have groceries go bad when frightened away by the apparitions. My erotic-romance Honestly novella has insta-sex, but balances that with the parent controlling her screams so not to wake her child. Superman, impossible alien, was raised by a childless couple in Kansas. For every unreal action, follow it by the very real to anchor it.

WRITING EXERCISE: Where are you spending the Belief Coins in your work-in-progress (WIP)? How many of them are genre-trope related? Count them up. And where do you have items to buy those coins – what grounds your book into reality? Do you have at least one “buy” before each “spend”. Do you have enough buys?