1. Alex_Hartman
    Offline

    Alex_Hartman Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2008
    Messages:
    338
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    At a desk staring at a blank notebook.

    Unrealistic Plots

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Alex_Hartman, Sep 22, 2008.

    What exactly would you consider an unrealistic plot? You can't say a plot that is centered around a witch is unrealistic, that's just fantasy. Can someone give me an example? :confused:
     
  2. Lucy E.
    Offline

    Lucy E. Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 25, 2008
    Messages:
    898
    Likes Received:
    4
    There are so many different genres including such a huge range of things that not much can be classified as unrealistic.
     
  3. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    I'd say instead that a plot may be written out in a way that is unconvincing. Although I personally find plot elements that violate well-established physical laws hard to swallow, if the book appears to intend realism. For example, the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine character Odo violated conservation of mass/energy on a regular basis.

    But again, that's a matter of inconsistent writing. In a different context, I might readily suspend disbelief.
     
  4. lordofhats
    Offline

    lordofhats Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2007
    Messages:
    2,023
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    The Hat Cave
    I tend to find nearly every plot I've ever read is unrealistic. That's why it's called fiction and that's why we love it :p! Why wallow in the real world for eternity when we can escape into an unreal one for a few hours :D.

    PS: I'm not delusional I'm just eccentric :cool:
     
  5. Rei
    Offline

    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2008
    Messages:
    7,869
    Likes Received:
    32
    Location:
    Kingston
    lordofhats is right. Who cares if it's technically not realistic? Your job is to make us believe it.
     
  6. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Or to suspend our disbelief.

    There are elements in most science fiction stories that I know violate physical laws. Still, if the story is well told, and the "rules" are reasonably and consistently laid out, then I can overlook the flaws and enjoy the story.

    I don't believe in the Chistian concepts of deities, devils, and angels. But that didn't prevent me from enjoying The Stand, ore the TV series Highway to Heaven and The Ghost Whisperer. I can suspend my disbelief to appreciate the stories that play out in those "rule sets".
     
  7. Sophronia
    Offline

    Sophronia Member

    Joined:
    May 24, 2007
    Messages:
    93
    Likes Received:
    4
    Something that has dues ex machina in it aka something impossible happens with no explanation.
     
  8. Alex_Hartman
    Offline

    Alex_Hartman Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2008
    Messages:
    338
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    At a desk staring at a blank notebook.
    Exactly. I forget what I was doing...Oh, it was some question in my English class about whether I would say The Count of Monte Cristo had a realistic plot or not. Well, why wouldn't it be realistic? I officially think that asking someone if they thought a plot was realistic or not is a bad question. Or if it's believable or not, I guess that's another way to put it. But even if something is ridiculously unbelievable, the writer could find a way to make it fit, right? So then they would be making it believable...in a sense. So it wouldn't be unbelievable...now I'm just confusing myself....=D
     
  9. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,897
    Likes Received:
    10,088
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    Unrealistic for me would be, as Cog mentioned, glaring errors and/or inconsistencies. Over the weekend I rented what I knew would be a god-awful movie called Doomsday. It was 28 Days Later meets Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. Super cheez-o-matic.

    It was a rainy Sunday; perfect day for that kinda’movie.

    What got under my skin was that the heroin finds this stash of goods which she can use to fight the bad guys wherein lay a super awesome Bentley sports coup. That part didn’t bother me. What bothered me was that according to the story line the Super phat Bentley had been stashed for the better part of fifty years and I was supposed to believe that the battery was still good? ‘Cause this car started up like it had just been parked yesterday.
     
  10. Gamecat
    Offline

    Gamecat Member

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2008
    Messages:
    99
    Likes Received:
    1
    I thought Deus Ex Machina occurs when a writter has placed themselves into an awful situation that can only be resolved by an act of god.

    It refers to the ancient greek theatre when right at the end of the play God descends from the heavens (utilising a big pulley machine type thing) and sets everything straight.

    As people before have said though, unrealistic plots depend on your ability to make your readers go along with what you're typing. No one would claim Alice in wonderland is realistic, but it's a great story and has many metaphors layered through out. Same with the Narnia books.

    My favourite book from last year was the Raw Shark Text, so far from realistic you couldn't get further but by far the best book of the new century.
     
  11. Alex_Hartman
    Offline

    Alex_Hartman Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2008
    Messages:
    338
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    At a desk staring at a blank notebook.
    Well, I guess that's one way to do it. =D
     
  12. Honorius
    Offline

    Honorius Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2008
    Messages:
    1,449
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Thebes
    well there are three connotations to unrealistic.

    1. unrealistic as in dragons, witches, time warp generators, and high power plasma cannons. but these are simply fall under fantasy/sci-fi

    2. those "never-actually-going-to-happen-but-are-still-possible" situations like in soap operas where the long lost third cousin twice removed shows up after having thought to be dead and starts to date the girls twin cousin.......... you get the idea. which "could happen" but we all know are nigh impossible.

    3. the outright "unrealistic" plots. along the lines of: the purple cat with rainbow poka-dots from the planet grin'galosh'zak fights the great half velociraptor, half chimera beast of the cave of the all-holy catnip tree which he needs to revive his beloved zombie pitbull-weinerdog breed . if theres a single person on the face of the earth that would take the above story serious; id like to know what their smoking.
     
  13. lordofhats
    Offline

    lordofhats Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2007
    Messages:
    2,023
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    The Hat Cave

    Seriously :eek:. Damn, and I though a plasma cannon mounted on a time traveling dragon who serves a witch would be such a cool plot :confused:.
     
  14. Fungimandias
    Offline

    Fungimandias Member

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2008
    Messages:
    17
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    The 5th Circle of Hell a.k.a. Louisiana
    I'd certainly read it :D

    And plasma cannons aren't entirely unrealistic; if memory serves I think they may have already developed a functioning prototype in real life.
     
  15. lordofhats
    Offline

    lordofhats Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2007
    Messages:
    2,023
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    The Hat Cave
    Plasma Cannons are currently fiction. What they have invented is industrial grade blow torches that can generate plasma. There's also a a lot of research into using the electro-magnetic field of plasma to contain anti-matter and suspend it away from matter.

    Honestly I find the concept of a plasma weapon impracticle. Particle guns are much more feasable... hmm particle beam shooting dragon... :rolleyes:

    I was mostly joking though. I don't mind any of those things but they are awfully cliche. It's nice if you can find a new way of presenting it (The Pern books did a good job with dragons) but those things are so overused and in the same way they are awfully annoying.

    List of Cliches:

    1. Twins who don't know their twins and get into awkward romantic positions...

    2. I am your father!

    3. Dragons, witches, evil AI's, psychopaths who want to destroy the world etc.

    None of those things are cliche really if you present them in a new light though. That new light is just so rare.
     
  16. Scattercat
    Offline

    Scattercat Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2008
    Messages:
    442
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    Under there.
    Unrealistic is a misnomer. What people mean when they say a plot was unrealistic is that it was unbelievable.

    The bar will be set in different places for different people, and you're never going to be able to please everyone. If you put a coal mine in your story and you read Wikipedia and maybe an article in a science magazine, some thirty-year coal mine veteran is going to read your story and snort, "Ha! That's not how it works at all!" Generally, keeping to the laws of physics and doing basic research is going to be enough to keep most people happy and pacify the "experts" that you've at least made a nod towards the truth.

    The other big bugaboo is, as has been pointed out in this thread, consistency. If unicorns are rare, magical creatures in your world, we'd better not start finding them around every corner. If you have magic spells that work by slicing apples and singing nursery rhymes, then you'd better need nursery rhymes every time. You can ask your audience to believe impossible things, so long as you the author keep them consistent within the rules you lay out. If something doesn't seem to have rules, the audience will get fed up with it, because they can no longer follow the narrative thread; it risks being broken every moment by the random nonsense plot device.

    The final issue with believability is having characters act "realistically." Basically, we tell stories about ourselves. Even if our stories are ostensibly about transgendered cybernetic dinosaurs on Mars, when you get beneath the surface, they're actually stories about human beings and the way we are. Characters need to act in a way other human beings find appropriate. If you set up a character as a hard-bitten, jaded detective, then having him freak out at the sight of blood is going to make your audience disbelieve. If you're writing a character as though she's a beautiful, gracious woman with men falling at her feet, begging her favors, then you can't have her speak and act like a petulant five-year-old. If you have a character who's smart, he'd better not make foolish mistakes. And so on and so on.

    So! Summary of points:

    1) Do at least a little research.
    2) Follow the rules. They don't have to be the real laws of physics, but they do need to be consistent.
    3) Characters need to act and react in an expected - or at least comprehensible - manner.
     
  17. architectus
    Offline

    architectus Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2008
    Messages:
    1,796
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    Ca
    As long as the writer does a good job setting up the weirdness, and suspends my disbelief, then no matter how unbelievable, I can run with it. Like that miniseries V. Reptoid aliens hiding in human skin. That is lizard-mania nutso man, but it was good.
     
  18. Shadow Reeves
    Offline

    Shadow Reeves Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2008
    Messages:
    279
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    On a plane filled with Motherf**king Snakes.
    i find that unrealistic plots are the ones that we are meant to relate to but cant due to the stupidity of complication.

    by this i feel like making an example:

    the story is a modern murder mystery and as the story unveils there is no evdiance that a human could have completed the act of murder in such a way. it ends up being an alien with PMS that used its mind powers to blow the mans internal organs to mince meat.

    now this is a poor example but you may be able to see my point. if the story was set in the future on another planet then we as the reader may be able to accept this. but in a modern day setting with little explination it become unrealistic.

    the time thing works the other way as well. in "A knights Tale" when they do the disco dance routine. it really annoys me as that is totally out of its time and pointless to the story...and the fact that everyone knows the dance makes it that much more unbelievable.
     
  19. tehuti88
    Offline

    tehuti88 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 13, 2008
    Messages:
    642
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Michigan
    Without reading the other replies, my idea of an unrealistic plot is one where the writer isn't consistent with the rules they create for their world. For example, on Page 3 they say that something can't happen or can't be done, then on Page 67, it happens or somebody does it.

    If somebody is killed and comes back to life, that's not unrealistic to me as long as it fits into the rules of the world being written about, whatever that world might be--fantasy or even reality with just a touch of the abnormal. But if the rules of the world don't allow resurrection, yet it happens anyway, and isn't explained adequately in the story (that is, if it's just lazy writing or a copout), then to me that's unrealistic.

    It's not the events or characters or plot that make something unrealistic. It's the consistency (or lack thereof).

    Though in cases where the writer makes EVERY SINGLE THING (or a huge majority of things) good and perfect and happy, or hateful and despicable and horrid, I find that unrealistic too because it's too much of something. Mary Sues fit into this category, and so did our childhood playground games. "I'm going to be a horse that has a mane every color of the rainbow, and has wings, and can breathe underwater, and can shoot rainbows from its hooves, and can heal the sick, and sing, and grow flowers, and bring happiness everywhere it goes!" Or "I'm going to be a dragon that spews toxic vomit and has one hundred talons and poison-tipped wings and can kill you just by looking at you, and can spout fire, and scalding water too, and can steal your soul, and can bring sickness and death to entire villages just by breathing on them!" You get the picture. Too overboard.
     
  20. AnonyMouse
    Offline

    AnonyMouse Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2008
    Messages:
    2,227
    Likes Received:
    337
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    ^ hey, that dragon sounds like me!!

    I agree that this topic is more about believability than realism. If fiction was all about realism, I doubt most of us would be writing. I know I wouldn't. To me, good fiction is about creating a reality that is believable. If that reality is very much like our own, it shouldn't be hard for your readers to follow. But if that reality is very different, it's important to let the reader come to terms with that new reality. We weren't born with an absolute understanding of how our world works, so we should never force that upon a reader. And the worst thing we can do, as writers, is trip them up right when things are starting to make sense.
     
  21. Dcoin
    Offline

    Dcoin Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2008
    Messages:
    279
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    NYC
    Part of being a good fiction writer is making the most fantastic ideas seems totally plausible.
     
  22. CommonGoods
    Offline

    CommonGoods Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2008
    Messages:
    121
    Likes Received:
    8
    Location:
    That small dark corner of your mind
    The real bitch here is probably that there are a lot more unrealistic plot then there are realistic plots. It is wrong to assume an unrealistic plot is a flawed plot.

    An unrealistic plot, as well as a realistic plot, become flawed plots when they become unlogical... but not even that rule is iron.
     
  23. Alex_Hartman
    Offline

    Alex_Hartman Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2008
    Messages:
    338
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    At a desk staring at a blank notebook.
    Yeah, so how could you tell the difference between the two?
     
  24. TheFedoraPirate
    Offline

    TheFedoraPirate Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2007
    Messages:
    205
    Likes Received:
    1
    Bad illogical plot:

    Where it is established Magic A is Magic A and the author later completely changes that while clearly hoping the reader simply forgot the rules.

    Good illogical plot:

    Where the illogical bits are exaggerated, highlighted, and flaunted usually with some purpose. Either humour or to show the horrible absurdity of the world in which we live. Best when combined.

    *hugs absurdist novels*
     

Share This Page