Monday, December 9, 2013

Believe It Or Not

At a recent critique group meeting I had the pleasure to read a piece from one of our members and someone I consider a friend. Usually I really like his writing - it's clear, well developed, unique, a pleasure to read in general. This time, I was befuddled. His characters lacked introduction, he jumped too far into the action, there seemed to be contradictory information. I was so confused. This was not like his writing. What I didn't realize until later that what I was reading was the third installment of a story he's working on. I missed the first couple of chapters. Yes, I missed a month of critique group meetings due to family engagements so I was out of the loop and therefore justly confused by his story.

What I missed was the initial premise. Every story has one and the reader is expected to willfully suspend their disbelief in order to enter this new world, the life of the character, to follow the story. This is necessary for the reader to accept the story and "get into it." How else can you expect science fiction to be successful, or horror, or even romance? No matter how I tried to suspend my disbelief, I didn't have the initial premise of his story.

The initial premise is vital to, well, everything. Every story, every situation in life has an initial premise that we are expected to willingly suspend our disbelief and therefore agree with. But what happens if you don't agree with the initial premise? What if you just can't suspend your disbelief? As a writer that would be bad because then you've lost your reader from the beginning. We've all read books we "just can't get into." But what about in other applications?

I don't usually get political here and it has been my policy to leave that alone as much as possible so I will NOT make a political statement but an observation on something that is a political topic. I saw posted on Facebook an article from about female voter suppression. This was a blurb of an article was linked back to a longer article from Occupy Democrats. You can read the articles for yourself by clicking on the links. Anyway, the longer article is about the voter ID law in Texas and how it will suppress voter's rights by requiring photo identification.

The articles go on to establish their arguments:
  1. There are only 81 DMV's in 254 counties and rural citizens are burdened by the lack of a local DMV.
  2. Most of the rural inhabitants are minorities and therefore it is restrictive of minorities.
  3. Many poor and elderly citizens don't drive and therefore do not have a need for a photo ID and now they are being required to get something they don't need or want.
  4. The law also requires the ID to have the person's legal name and this is particularly discriminatory to women who are changing their names due to marriage. *The shorter article finds this the most heinous because it doesn't effect men.*
The woman who posted this was particularly insulted because men weren't effected by a name change and that's her privilege. She was willing to suspend her disbelief and agree with that part of the argument.

Here's my question: what if you aren't willing to suspend your disbelief? What if you don't buy into any of their arguments? Not just these, I'm speaking generally. What if we as citizens didn't readily believe any premise that was presented to us from either side of the argument. What if we, instead, required our representatives to work harder for our disbelief?

I think, perhaps, if our citizenry was as skeptical and suspicious of the initial premises instead of labels of Progressive, Liberal, or Conservative, we'd have a better run country. And that's my initial premise for today. Believe it or not.

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