Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Why Your Fictional World Must Be Realistic

You guys know that feeling of annoyance you get when you watch a movie or read a book and a character gets out of something that would have been the end of them in real life? Let's say he falls down a massive hole in the ground and somehow survives with just a cut on his cheekbone.


Not only does this make us suspend belief of the story the writer is trying to tell, but it gives us that sense that the character is always safe. That the character will somehow make it to the end of the book/movie. As writer's we want our readers to be in constant fear that the hero is in danger. When we start playing with the natural laws of physics, bending the rules of the real world, and having our characters easily survive the nastiest scenarios, we've broken that trust between reader and author.

So why do writers do this? Well usually it is for convenience. They want action, but they don't want it to cost their characters. A good example of this was in The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies. As the ground shrinks beneath Legolas's feet, he begins to run up the crumbling rocks, while shooting arrows at enemies in the distance, and somehow manages to make it back to safety. Even within the fantasy world there has to be limits. It has to be realistic.

So what can we do to prevent this? Put yourself in your characters shoes. If you were just in a massive battle, do you think you would just escape with a cut on your cheekbone? Or would you be a little more beat up? If you just injured your leg, would you be running on it two minutes later when the story heats up or would you still be limping around? Think of your characters as real people and your audience will think of them as real people too.

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