Urban Fantasy: Maintaining the Masquerade

Tweet of the Day: Have Duck, Will Travel


The hardest part about the Masquerade is maintaining it. There are a few ways to go about it, none of which is fool proof but many authors mix and match them to make the idea plausible for the reader.

In no particular order:

  • Weirdness Censor: For some reason most folks tend to gloss over all things out of the ordinary. It maybe because they are hardened city dwellers that are accustomed to seeing the unusual every day and simply shrug their shoulders at it or that the human mind craves “normality” and will go to great lengths to protect itself. Works well in one off events, but when giant robots trash the city on a daily basis, alien’s invade every Christmas and no child is safe after dark, it stretches the readers suspension of disbelief to the breaking point.
  • M.I.B.: A group that actively maintains the masquerade. Their job is to make sure details of the latest event don’t leak out to the press or create plausible excuses for it. They also tend to clean up gobs of ectoplasm, alien ship wreckage and dead bodies (of ghoulies and/or victims). Characters are usually either fighting to expose the cover up or are charged with maintaining it, at least in a passive way (avoid situations/acts that could make things worse or expose the secret). Of course, the appearance of black helicopters, men with dark suits/glasses and ridiculous headlines in the local newspapers tend to lead to….
  • Kooks and Loons: The people that do take notice are those on the deep end of things. They collect clippings from tabloids, hang out at conspiracy forums and ascribe every thing to a secret trifecta of Martians, Molemen and nano bots. No wonder nobody believes them. They have a hazy association with facts and logic plus their tract record in the community ain’t the best when it comes to the believable. Even then, you can’t rely on every witness to be so easily refuted. Specially when they are not the only witnesses.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane:Maybe there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for what is going on. It could be voices from angels/demons or a bad case of schizophrenia (and I know that is lame association, just go with it). Those lights in the sky? Experimental airplanes or swamp gas, your pick. A common element in cover up stories. But it works best in works of heavy magic realism, where the reader as well as the characters are baffled by events. In works where the reader knows that the weird exist in-universe, this doesn’t work as well.
  • Invisible to Normals: Simply put, normal people can’t see the monsters. Maybe they inhabit a parallel dimension that bleeds into our reality or normal folks lack the means (magical or technological) to detect them. A pretty solid answer about how the masquerade works except that if the fantastic elements can interact with the normal world, they will leave a mark even if indirectly.

Those are a few of the techniques used to create and maintain the masquerade. Mind you, not one of them is perfect so a using several of them is the way to go most of the time (although you don’t have to use them all).

Next week: The Unmasked World.


4 comments on “Urban Fantasy: Maintaining the Masquerade

  1. Well, I don’t know anything about this Masquerade stuff, Rafael, but that owl is SO my husband when I try to share something writerly with him.

    It’s been forever since I’ve been here (I’m sorry), and I love this new design. The blue is great!


  2. Zomg, that owl is hilarious. I need to print that out and put it above my husband’s half of the bed. 🙂


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