What Makes a Story Believable?

Buffy and the modern BSG are my top two, all-time favorite television series. Both created cohesive worlds and compelling characters that I couldn’t help but watch and felt totally invested in.


I often wonder, though, what made those worlds seem so real and engaging to me? Both series relied on absolutely ridiculous plot twists and disbelief that took an industrial crane (literally in the last episode of season 5 of Buffy) to suspend. So why did I never really question what happened. And why did I never walk away feeling let down by the twists and turns and revelations the writers came up with?


I don’t have a good answer. And what happened with series like Lost or (brace yourself) The X Files? Both series went to places that I felt were completely unbelievable and offered revelations that seemed counterintuitive and ill planned on debut. Why did Starbuck’s final scene in BSG seem magical and powerful while Lost’s strange twists and turns seemed hackneyed and corny?


I don’t have an answer to these questions, and I’d love one. Because I think that if I knew the answer, it would make me an invincible writer. As an author, I want to surprise my audience and keep them guessing. But I also want to satisfy them and never leave them with a puzzled “Why did that happen?” feeling when I pull the rabbit out of the hat.

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