Plausible: Having the appearance of truth or reason; seemingly worthy of approval or acceptance; credible; believable. (from Dictionary.com)
I know, what a happy post for a Friday. What can I say it was on my mind so I'm writing about it.
As authors, we create stories with characters and worlds, limited only by our imagination. Anything and everything we want happens within the pages of our tales. However, we can get carried away with a story. We envision these mind-blowing scenes that would just be so awesome, but we forget about plausibility. What a pesky little creep! A killer of creativity! Why I've eliminated entire chapters because of this guy. Fortunately, those chapter kills came before publication. Sometimes that doesn't happen and I'll get pulled right out of a story.
Case in point. I just finished reading a historical romance. Not exactly a history lesson, if you know what I mean, but highly entertaining. Anyway, our hero and heroine are kidnapped by the villain, a loathsome bastard of a British East India Company man. Poor hero is whipped, then thrown into the hold while our heroine is enslaved in the captain's quarters. They get only brief glimpses of each other for the next four weeks or so. Until she sneaks down into the hold to get a little something, something. The author writes a very hot scene, complete with heroine running her fingers through hero's silky locks and along his strong jaw. Ah bliss...
Plausibility clobbering time.
We're talking the hold of an 18th century ship. Hello rats, hello other sailors, hello vermin. Not to mention it's been a month. Our silky-locked, strong-jawed hero is going to be pretty scruffy, smelly, emaciated and not to mention probably suffering the ill effects of having his flesh torn by a whip. And considering his condition, I don't think he'd still be able to ride her into the floor. Unless he's really an alien, but that would no longer make it just a historical.
I also recently read a sci fi in which the protagonist and villain were blasting away at each other and one of the many porthole windows on the ship got blown out. They kept fighting. Knock knock. This is outer space. It doesn't matter that the book is a low tech tale, if those windows get blown out, your characters will be sucked out into space, not continue their fight. Unless they are wearing pressurized space suits with gravity boots.
When we're writing we need to keep in mind that we can have happen whatever we want, but we need to make certain it's plausible. Otherwise we risk ruining our credibility as writers. Though I do know there are those readers who don't care one wit about whether something is believable. When I questioned the above historical on another site, I was hammered by faithful readers of the author who told me that I had no sense of drama and romance. I mean, really, who wants to read about scruffy heroes and body odors? It's not sexy.
Now even, though there are readers out there who don't care, I would err on the side of making it believable. You know for the other 99%.
Have you ever had to eliminate something in a story because it wasn't plausible? Have you ever read anything unbelievable that jerked you out of a book? Speak truth, I promise no one will skewer you for your opinion.