Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Reality v Belivability

There has been a lot of criticism lately of fictional books not being based in reality.  Let's read that again and think about it.
Fictional books are bad because they don't portray reality.
When I first started to see this concept emerge I thought that it was just a few people who really didn't like that particular book. Logic would say that a fictional book can't be realistic. It's a fictional book. By definition it's not based in reality.

But I am one of the few, apparently, who have realized this. More and more reviews have jumped onto this concept. They complain that the book doesn't use real facts, that it is dangerous because it portrays a fictional character doing fictional things. Some have even argued that the book encourages various "bad" behaviours - using the same logic which blames poor choices on 80's music.

A good book will engulf you in the story. It will pull you in and take you out of reality for a short time. That's the point of the book. It doesn't need to be real and reader's shouldn't be looking for realistic depictions of life in a fictional book. If you want to know the real facts on something then look it up in a dictionary, handbook or other documentary source.

A good book, however, needs to be believable. It needs characters that the readers can understand and relate to. Readers need to be able to follow the story and feel like they are there. Books, fictional books, are a work of imagination where the author takes the reader on a journey through a story. If they reader chooses to have the story in a place that is not modern day, or otherwise easily understood, then the author must lead the reader with vivid descriptions and explanations of what the characters are seeing. If the author chooses to use modern day but add a touch of something else then it's the author's job to make the story believable.

No sane person would read a book about about a modern day wizard and then try to walk into a train station pillar looking for a gateway, or try to flush themselves down a toilet looking for a hidden passage.

No sane person would read a book about a vampire and then sit in a bar hoping to meet one. Or worse head out with a man you just met in a bar because he wants to "tell you a story."

No sane person would read a book about a man with emotional scars and/or violent tendencies and think "If I act violent then women will like me." or "I want a man that I can 'fix'."

However, everyone of these books that I have just mentioned are widely popular and often get great reviews. Not because they are based in reality, but because they are believable, fictional stories that remove the reader from their own reality for a while.

For the curious the books are Harry Potter Series by JK Rawling, Vampire Series by Ann Rice, and every book I have ever read in the genre of romance.

If readers continue to tell authors that they want "real" in their fictional stories then readers will be disappointed when the story lines start to sound more like their real lives then the escapes that they desire. Because who wants to read about the mundane life that most of us lead.