Fiction writers work in a realm of fantasy – as authors, we can do what we want, right? Well, there’s that little thing about believability that gets in the way…but where is the line drawn?
When I was working on the Demonica series, one of the fantastical elements I had to deal with was shapeshifter rules. I have all kinds of shifters I had to make rules for, but in this case, I was working on my demons.
See, my Seminus demons (the heroes in the series) can shift into other demon species, but it didn’t make sense that they should be able to shift into ANY species. The Sems are man-sized (okay, BIG man-sized *g*), and their purpose in life is to impregnate other species in order to populate the world with Seminus demons (there are no female Sems).
To me, it seemed logical that since the females of other species would be giving birth to babies approximately the size of human babies, the females must be able to handle it.
For example, it’s dangerous for a sheltie to give birth to puppies if the father is a German shepherd. I figured the same rules should apply to my demons. So they can’t shift into smaller species, and they can only go about twice as large (it also didn’t make sense that they could get REALLY huge, because where would the mass come from? Cells can only stretch so much, right?)
My husband just rolls his eyes. His comment? “You know, this is a fantastical world – if you want your demons to be able to shift into mouse-sized creatures, they can.”
No, they can’t. In my world, it isn’t logical. No matter how fantastical something is, there are certain realities I just have a hard time dismissing.
I remember watching The Day After Tomorrow with my husband, and there came a point in the disaster movie where some wolves broke free from the zoo and attacked some people on a ship that had frozen in the streets of New York City. I went ballistic. It made no sense! First of all, wolves don’t behave like that, second, how did they get on the ship, and third, if they were that hungry, there were freshly dead people all over the place they could have eaten.
My husband looked at me like I was a moron. “The fact that giant anti-hurricanes formed instantly and are destroying the earth on an impossible scale doesn’t bother you, but hungry wolves do?”
Yes. Because I can suspend my disbelief for something that is totally out of the realm of possibility, but altering something REAL with no explanation just tweaks every logical bone in my body. So when I was writing my shifters, I knew it was all fiction and fantasy…but some laws I just couldn’t break – such as the size thing. (Though let me be clear – in someone else’s world, the size thing might work, but in my world, where size is an issue for breeding, it didn’t.)
Other people have other hot buttons, and some have none. Which are you? Can you pretty much suspend your disbelief for anything (providing the world is built well,) or are there certain things you just can’t look past? If the author tells you the sky on another planet is red, do you accept it, or do you want to know why it’s red?