1. Sephie913
    Offline

    Sephie913 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2008
    Messages:
    34
    Likes Received:
    0

    Realistic hardships in Fiction

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Sephie913, Oct 20, 2008.

    I like to use small, realistic hardships in my stories. If nothing else, it adds a little comedy to fantasy plot.

    For instance, a generic scene is: hero sneaks into villain's lair to rescue the princess. While saving the princess, the alarm is thrown, and the hero must escape. The hero, under hot pursuit, comes within sight of the gates, and the gates are ordered shut. The hero slips out the closing gates just in time. The gates shut, trapping the pursuers inside, and ensuring the hero's escape.

    My solution: trap the hero inside the gates with the pursuers closing in. Also, simple things like a glass breaking, or stepping wrong and turning an ankle, are generally not done in fantasy, so I enjoy making minor annoyances for my characters. it shows a different level of strength, when the character overcomes tiny obstacles with the same determination that they routinely overcome the large, mystical ones.

    Does anyone else do this kind of thing?
     
  2. tehuti88
    Offline

    tehuti88 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 13, 2008
    Messages:
    642
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Michigan
    I'm fairly certain I do it, but it's always such an integral part of the rest of the writing that I don't focus on it consciously that much. It's just the same as using any other element of writing. *shrug*
     
  3. Scarlett_156
    Offline

    Scarlett_156 Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2008
    Messages:
    193
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Colorado USA
    If you start out thinking about how to realistically portray "hardships" in writing with an example that you could never experience in real life, then your writing will always seem a bit flat. None of us has rescued a princess from a villain's lair in real life. (No, now come on! You haven't! :p)

    Practice on a smaller scale first with stuff you already know about, and by the time you have worked your way up to the bigger things you'll be able to see things with the protagonist's eyes and come up with more realistic obstacles, both small AND large, for him/her.

    For example: I woke up to a smell like burning tires. It disoriented me. It smelled like a car on fire. I was worried that my house was burning or something like that. I got up and knocked my glass of wine, unfinished from the night before, off the nightstand. Swearing a bit, I decided to go on into the house before cleaning it up so that I could make sure there was not a fire--I didn't figure there was because my parrot wasn't screaming. I could hear him playing with his toys in his cage.

    I went into the kitchen and could see through the window that my neighbor was burning a pile of what looked like branches and leaves in his yard. I don't know why it smelled like rubber--maybe he had some old tires in there, too.

    I got a rag and some spray cleaner and went back to clean the carpet where I'd spilled the wine. As I walked around the credenza, I stubbed my toe. (etc)


    There's nothing particularly exciting about the above passage, but writing about stuff like this--in your blog, or personal journal, or what-have-you--is a good exercise.

    There are lots of opportunities in daily life to work on writing. Even when you can't write, you can observe things that you can write about later.

    I'm not saying that you should abandon any work that you are doing on your novels/stories/what-have-you until you've spilled wine and stubbed your toe as many times as I have, of course! I'm one of those readers, however, who doesn't think that "fantasy" should necessarily include "unrealistic"--I like to read fantasy literature if it's good and I can relate to the characters, and the only way I can do that is if they have real-life stuff going on.

    You've got a good suggestion here, OP. I was just elaborating on it a bit. yours in Chaos, Scarlett
     
  4. lordofhats
    Offline

    lordofhats Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2007
    Messages:
    2,023
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    The Hat Cave
    I don't generally do that plot wise, but I often have a silly comedic relief character who has horrible bad luck as a sidekick or wingman for the hero who regularly does something in a situation that I think is sort of wacky.

    Example: Joe and his buddy Bob are trying to flee the police after a bank robbery. Bob stubs his toe and completely ignores the fact they're about to be arrested to complain about why someone would leave a heavy metal crate in the middle of a dark alley :p. Ironically, the heavy crate was put there by Joe so they could stash the money XD.
     
  5. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    In real life, plans don't always work. Maybe it took longer to pick a lock than you planned on. Or someone stops you to ask for directions and throws off your timing. Maybe an adversary did somtehing you didn't count on.

    In real life, shoelaces come untied at inopportune moments. People stack cartons in front of fire exits and forget to move them back later. Cars stall. or run out of gas because someone forgot to fill the tank. People get to the store five minutes late, or the manager closed a few minutes early because of a headache. Rainstorms happen when you needed dry weather. People get migraines that make it hard to function adequately, and sneeze when they need to stay hidden.

    All kinds of complications can become problems for the characters - some may seem silly, others are obviously serious. Not only does it make the story seem more real to figure in these random glitches, it adds to plot by creating new obstacles to overcome.
     
  6. Dcoin
    Offline

    Dcoin Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2008
    Messages:
    279
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    NYC
    I like the idea so much that I went back into some old work and added a few nuisances that could happen to any of us along the way. I can see how too many might break the flow of the story, but just the right amount adds a sense of realism to a story.

    Thanks!
     
  7. soujiroseta
    Offline

    soujiroseta Senior Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2008
    Messages:
    199
    Likes Received:
    26
    Location:
    Harare, Zimbabwe
    i agree with this method, i usually do this as well mainly just for a little lightheartedness and like COG said, in real life plans dont always work.
     
  8. Daniel
    Offline

    Daniel I'm sure you've heard the rumors. Founder Staff Contributor

    Joined:
    May 14, 2006
    Messages:
    2,571
    Likes Received:
    402
    Location:
    Peoria, Illinois
    I think adding small, realistic hardships that characters need to overcome and greatly contribute to your story and how the reader relates to the character. However, like anything else, it needs to be done in moderation; too many small, realistic hardships and you'll make it unenjoyable to read.
     
  9. Sephie913
    Offline

    Sephie913 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2008
    Messages:
    34
    Likes Received:
    0
    Something just occurred to me. Aside from doing irrelevant, realistic hardships, it is also possible (and fun) to create small hardships that seem irrelevant at first but return to effect the storyline. It simultaneously adds even more realism to the story and makes the story unpredictable. I hadn't even thought about mentioning using them in such a way, but I find I do it regularly.
     
  10. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Absolutely. Your character coming down with a miserable cold might just seem to make him or her suffer and be a bit less on the ball than normal, but might also cause the character to miss an important odor that turns out to be important.

    (Just a simple example)
     

Share This Page