Saturday, March 5, 2011

Defining Plausible, Possible, and BS

I wrote this little article ages ago, and forgot about it. So here you go, the definitions of Possible, Plausible and complete BS in fiction.

I could argue the definitions endlessly, but it will never make a difference. The fact is, it depends on whether people understand the difference between Plausible and just making up BS. Hence, endless argument. So rather than arguing until I'm blue in the face (or until my typing fingers fall off), I'll just show the definitions.


The aliens from a distant planet had green skin with blue polka dots. They hated humans. They landed on planet Earth.

Now, is this plausible? Not by a long shot. It raises too many questions that's not even related to wanting to read a whole story. It's just annoying. Why do they hate humans? How do the aliens even exist? Why did they come to Earth? And why do they have green skin with blue polka dots? Of all things! You see? Just plain annoying and not much incentive to want to know more. If I read this as an introductory paragraph, I would have dropped the book like a hot potato.

Is it possible? Yes. Any idea is possible. There could be aliens who hate humans. But no reason is given. Readers are literate, and they're not that stupid. It's the author's responsibility to give a reason, some sort of logic. Even if it's highly fictional, it doesn't matter, as long as it makes sense in a fictional context. In the example above, I completely failed in my responsibility as an author. :(

Rewrite of example:

The aliens came from a planet so far away that it wasn't named by humans. In fact, the humans on a planet they foolishly called Earth, couldn't properly see these aliens with their flawed human eyes. They knew the grass was green and the sky was blue. So all people saw when the aliens landed, tentacles wrapped around ray guns, was green skin with blue polka dots.

Is this plausible? Absolutely. I also completely made all this up, just off the top of my head. All ideas start off as complete bullshit. It doesn't matter if people believe aliens exist or not, that's not the point. The point is for the author to give the reader a reason to believe these aliens exist. That's the only thing that matters. That's fiction.

This also raises the good kind of questions that gives people an incentive to read the story. What are the aliens doing there? Why did they arrive to planet Earth? Omg what's going to happen to the humans??? There's only one way to find out, read the story.

Exploring the plausible can be a lot of fun and seem easy. And writing fiction, making the plausible believable, is the Crafting of fiction. It's still fun, but a crapload of hard work ;)

P.S. I'm not a Sci-fi author, I really did just make that up, it's not my best work, and I have no intentions of ever turning that into a story. Just making examples :)

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