1. Mask
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    Mask Member

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    Realism

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Mask, Jan 31, 2013.

    Thought it would be interesting to discuss opinions about realism within fiction. There are a lot of facets to this subject... for one, it can be difficult to portray things realistically with an unfamiliar subject. Another, is how crazy reality is...

    What are your thoughts on how close to reality your stories or fiction in general should be? Do you have any personal "rules" for how often an unlikely occurrence should be allowed to happen? How much do you study a subject before writing about it, and how closely do you stick to what you learned? Being able to educate the reader about a subject is always nice--how important is that to you, when writing a story?
     
  2. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think you're asking how accurate fiction should be, when dealing with a realistic storyline. Overall, fiction can be completely unrelated to reality, so as far as premise, there is no "should be." If you're dealing with aliens, or another world, or magical powers or whatever, anything goes. However, if the story takes place in the real world, and purports to take place in a particular city, or deals with a particular illness, or follows a criminal investigation or legal case, it should be very accurate. You risk either alienating or misinforming the reader if you are inaccurate.

    As far as crazy or unlikely coincidences, that depends. I try to keep them to a minimum, but as in real life, they do sometimes happen. It can be hard to swallow in a murder mystery if there are too many of them, and the solving of the murder relies too heavily on multiple coincidences. But different readers have different degrees of tolerance. The rest of the writing has to be that much better in order to make up for too many coincidences.
     
  3. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    I'm of the opinion that if it's your fantasy, then you make the rules. Having said that, there are things that drive me crazy.

    If you're going to use popular cars, knives, guns, food dishes, period clothing, etc., then you'd better get the numbers and descriptions right.

    My wife and I were engrossed in the early movie version of "Red Dragon." One of the cops handed the hero a Charter Arms Bulldog and a bag of Glaser Safety Slugs. Kind of insider stuff, and that revolver is my wife's favorite.

    The plot came to an action packed conclusion, the serial killer is about to kill the hero, and the hero fires--six shots. The Bulldog is a five shot revolver.

    My wife and I laughed our heads off, we shut off the movie and never finished watching it. When you create a world--even one of your own manufacture--then stick to the rules you've outlined. There really isn't a Hannibal Lecter, and there never was a protege' on a killing spree. But there really is a Charter Arms Bulldog, and it doesn't fire six shots.
     
  4. Mask
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    I agree with your thoughts, Chica. What sorts of stories are you interested in writing, in terms of realism?


    Tourist... I sympathize. Misinformation and other silliness is very frustrating. If they're going to use a specific kind of handgun, then they should work out the kind of handgun it is--if they don't want to, just make it "a generic revolver" so that at least while boring, they won't put their foot into their mouth.
     
  5. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    Best thing you can do while writing about a ficticious world, is instead of trying to fit our reality in said world you'd better make the reader feel and understand and consolidate the reality of the world he is reading about.
     
  6. Mask
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    The reader understanding the capabilities of characters and actions within the settings is hugely important to any written work. Otherwise, it'll end up that your plot-twists seem like you're just making stuff up as you go along. (Anyone ever watched Felix the Cat? It has my favourite example of this)
     
  7. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    The stories I write mostly have to do with relationships. But I strive for accuracy insofar as what happens with the jobs the people have, and the places where they live and visit.
     
  8. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    I'm glad I made that impression. I just started a thread on "guns, knives, and super soldiers," where I used relatively inexpensive stuff to demonstrate this problem.

    I'd like to hear your thoughts.
     
  9. Mask
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    Realistic relationships are an interesting topic.... partially because there's no real definition you can use. With that, it largely is not having too many things too far beyond the norms--sometimes you would get ridiculed for making a romance less extreme than a real example ("That is so unrealistic! Even though it has actually happened...").

    I'm glad you do research on jobs and locations. Readers love it when writers have some understanding of where they live, and what their jobs are like (getting those parts wrong can be a large turn-off for some).


    Tourist: Found the thread and posted. I'll be a little honest, though: I'm not sure what the topic of conversation is, in the thread.
    On the subject of plugging our interesting threads, have much interest in historical/medieval settings? I started a thread about that in the Setting Development board, discussing the realities and fantasies of "medieval"* times.



    *: For those wondering why I keep putting this in quote marks. The common idea of "medieval" is rather strange... generally it is thought of as a period without guns, for example, when most of the medieval period had guns. Plus, some scholars argue about the time frame encompassed.
     
  10. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    Glad you asked.

    We make so much of this "weapons, black-bag, mercenary-in-the-night" rigmarole that I thought I'd post something from the boy next store.

    In my entire life I've only met one merc. Just one. A revolver shooter. He was carpenter by day and volunteer firefighter. I used to cast bullets for him. He brought his toddler over one night.

    What we generate in our stories often doesn't ring true because we depict what we wish life projected, not what has happened, now or ever.

    BTW, most mercs are cargo kickers, not killers. And those togishi polishers, they were peasants, in a trade like primitive plumbers. Simple metal workers.

    One night the actual NCIS Director was given a bit part on the series. The actors all related he was quiet and soft-spoken.

    The problem is that I don't know if you could even sell an honest story with a background like that.
     
  11. Mask
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    That's about the same for mercenaries throughout history. In some places, it was popular to be a Mercenary during the Spring and Summer, then come home to continue being a carpenter, or fish cleaner, or whatever else your trade is during the Autumn and Winter.

    What is the popular conception of the togishi? Epic samurai ninjas?
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ...that they should follow reality as much as possible, unless set in a sci-fi future...

    ...no...

    ...as much as i need to, in order to learn what i need to know...

    ...as closely as the story demands...

    ...since i abhor pedantic novelists like tom clancy, who clobber up their good stories with page after page of 'educating' it is important to me that i not do the same...
     
  13. Mask
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    Tom Clancy spends pages...? That... is a lot of time . I would consider a paragraph to be spending a lot, unless the subject was very relevant and interesting (and preferably you can weave in some plot progression as you describe things).



    A little surprised no one has brought up fight scenes, yet.
     
  14. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    Boys, girls, settle back and take a breath! I'm supposed to be the unstable one, yikes, get your own gig!:p

    There is plenty of room for creativity in fiction. If nothing else, just do research. Let me give you a "for instance."

    My hero's department mandates revolvers. He likes an auto for a back-up. The solution? Find a revolver and an auto with the same caliber.

    Granted, I cheated, I knew the answer off the top of my head. The hero carries a SW 610 for a holster gun, but he hides a Colt Delta Elite under his jacket. Both fire 10mm Auto rounds. Easy peasy.

    Tiny back-up gun, small enough for the palm of your hand but leaves big holes? Well, of course, he carries a Semmerling LM-4, but then, why not?

    Anyone of us as members could buy, feed, fire and tote the exact guns. No Navy SEAL training required, you still get to write your story, and the specialists in the audience never cringe.

    BTW, I owned a Bren Ten in 10mm, nice gun. I also owned a stainless Colt Delta Elite in 10mm, it shot all over the place, even with tailored handloads. Feel free to use that in your next novel.

    Play nice, or I'll turn this forum around and no one gets ice cream!
     

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