Until I define Believer’s reality, I cannot create a plot for it, because whether or not supernatural things exist in the world of Believer open or close doors for me in creating said plot. It’s true that I would use a very delicate brush in painting the fantasy elements of Believer, and to the reader eighty percent of the story would look exactly the same one way or the other, but it’s the subtleties under the surface which define the way I must write everything in the story. Perhaps a character is secretly a robot in the “fantasy version” of Believer, and perhaps that very same character is just aloof and calculative in the “reality version”, but which is which makes a world of difference to me the writer: determining the subtle hints I draw attention to if they are a robot, and showing unexpected emotion and life if they aren’t.
I’m not concerned with my ability to create legitimate moving discussion amongst the characters if the fantasy avenue is real, because the fantasy elements would not be so ubiquitous as to overpower the reality that the story is grounded in, and in fact the story would be grounded in reality to the point of forcing any fantasy elements to cope with the realistic world I am placing them in. My concern is one of focus. Belief is not going to be the only theme of Believer. As of right now I’m planning on it predominantly being a slice-of-life character study, dealing with the strange void of time between high school and middle age where the definition of “adult” remains somewhat amorphous (not coincidentally the exact time period I am currently living in; write what you know, they say). However, I fear that if I add a supernatural element to the formula, they’ll counteract each other: the mundane issues of the characters will seem petty compared to the fantastical (“Why are you worried about your Master’s degree when there’s a ghost in our apartment?”), but the fantastical will seem shallow compared to the mundane (“The confirmed existence of mermaids is not going to magically pay this month’s rent, nor is it going to end hostilities in the Middle East.”), and neither of them will carry the weight needed to feel important.