Wednesday, 17 August 2011

To 'See' or not to 'See' - that is the ESP!

Second Sight

The Eyes Have it!

In supernatural thrillers and horror stories the parapsychologies will usually figure somewhere along the way.
Second sight or ESP is one of these ethereal subjects and it can be a particularly helpful plot device; remembering, of course, that we are talking about fiction and a willingness on the part of a reader to suspend disbelief.
The idea of being able to ‘see’ something that is not within the bounds of normal vision is not a new one. It has been used from the early beginnings of the written word and tales from the classics and mythology are steeped in them.
The main areas of second sight seem to be Remote Viewing, where a person can ‘see’ something that is happening a long way away, Precognition, where a person can ‘see’ and foretell something that is about to happen, and Visions where a person simply ‘sees’ something (it may only be a flash image) but has no idea if it’s from the future, past or present.
Telepathy, premonition and clairvoyance are also closely related to second sight.
Of course the scientific community does not accept any of this stuff as it requires proof that is just not available. The various researchers into the area are of the view that most of it is fraud, self-delusion and guesswork. But that doesn’t stop the believers and it certainly doesn’t stop the notion of second sight being fertile grounds for the imagination in fiction writing.
One does not have to believe these things to enjoy a good story that uses any these ideas. If you asked the population in general how many believed in the paranormal you would get a much lower number than those who read the fiction books and watch the films. This is what suspension of disbelief is all about; in that, just for the period that you are immersed in a good story, you are willing to step into a universe where all things are possible. This is the nub of all good plots and fiction in general. How else would we enjoy Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings?
The other interesting thing for me is that if you have one character who believes in the paranormal and one that doesn’t then that sets the story up for even more conflict and tension, quite naturally without having to work at it.
My recent book 'The Witcheye Gene' features a genetic anomaly (differing eye colour for each eye - called Heterochromia Iriditis - an actual recognised eye condition) which - fictionally speaking - allows the  character to have special sight and 'see' things in someone's future and present.
Admittedly this kind of story is not everyone's cup of tea but as it is a love story and a crime story too, I hope readers will suspend disbelief long enough to enjoy the story.
What do you think? If you make a world ‘real’ enough for the reader, can you suspend disbelief?


  1. Sounds like a neat premise! I'd definitely read it, especially meshed with love and crime. ;o) I think if a writer is skilled enough and Shows rather than Tells, etc, a story WILL seem real, and the readers' belief can be suspended. (Unless the reader is the uber-practical or strictly scientific type, perhaps.)

  2. Pat, I have the Witcheye Gene and I am excitedly nearing the opportunity to read it!

  3. Thanks for the comments and thanks for reading my book, Maeve! I look forward to hearing what you think...