The primary reason why I stopped working on Believer is because I do not have a plot. But the lack of plot is itself a symptom of a larger conundrum I have: where to put Believer on the scale of fantasy versus reality. I have forever been enamored with stories that seamlessly blend reality and fantasy together so as to not diminish the qualities of either, and so if the opportunity presents itself my inclination is to do the same. In a story where a strong theme is going to be belief, I feel it’s prescient to observe things people believe in that are real, things that aren’t, and most importantly, things that are uncertain, for this is where belief is needed the most. A character may believe in Santa Claus, whether or not Santa Claus exists, and through this belief the character molds their life and becomes a different person who strives to be good all year, because Santa Claus is watching them. Over time, the character may strive to be good because they see the value of goodness in the world and the peace goodness brings to their life, not just because they want lots of presents. In this way, it was not Santa Claus that was important, but the belief in Santa Claus. Whether or not Santa Claus really exists never really mattered, because Santa Claus represented an idea, an ideal to this character, that meant so much more than the physical man ever could. And by believing in this ideal, the character learned something about themselves.
But what if Santa Claus really were real? Herein lies my question: Does the existence of the believed-in entity harm the credibility of the belief from a narrative viewpoint? If characters discuss the social and philosophical underpinnings of believing in the chupcabra, and later it is revealed to them that chupacabras exist, does it render their previous discussion moot since they were discussing on false pretense? I desire traces of the supernatural in Believer, so that I might show interesting perspectives impossible to show in real life, but I hesitate because to break that seal of fantasy may be to undermine the credibility of the story’s more cerebral discussions. A story that leans hard on the line of fantasy without actually crossing could still take place in the real world; thus the story is more relatable. But once that line is crossed, it cannot be taken back, and it crosses into a completely different realm of story that must adhere to different rules and respect different constants.
I want to have my cake. And I want to eat it. And I do not know which will be better for me in the long run.