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Do you know this type of people?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Smajdalf, Oct 16, 2016.

  1. Smajdalf

    Smajdalf Scribe

    Some of you must have met these people which say things like this:
    "That is nonsense! This story/film is ****!!! It's so unrealistic!!!"
    That's the problem. I don't know if to laugh or cry on these 'statements'. They seem to don't know that if something is fantasy, that means it HASN'T got to have the same physic laws or like that. You know, I just want to know if anyone has the same experiences as me...
  2. spectre

    spectre Sage

    There are a lot of critics out there, I think we can all relate in at least that unbelievability is something we consider when writing.
    Smajdalf likes this.
  3. Devora

    Devora Sage

    Usually something like this is one of two things: 1) The person can't separate their reality from the reality of the world in the story, 2) The writer has failed to properly establish what works and doesn't work in their world.

    on the discussion of the second point, the way to solve this in a screenplay is by establishing the world's boundries in order to secure the Suspension of Disbelief. This means that you must write it in a way that it is believable for your worlds. You'd either have to have the event occur various times throughout the story, or establish that the event is disturbing the natural order of physics. By performing the latter, you're still insuring the Suspension of Disbelief by showing the "wait that's not right" or a "Wow i did not expect to make that shot".
    Smajdalf and cydare like this.
  4. Malik

    Malik Archmage

    I see one every morning. In the mirror. When I shave.

    I will forgive flying horses, and fireballs, and levitation, and talking trees. Bring the magic. But when you get your mundane details laughably wrong, I click out of your book. I'm that guy, and I'm not remotely ashamed of it.

    You have to get the little details right in order to sustain the suspension of disbelief long enough to introduce the fantasy aspects of your story. I'm not saying you have to be historically accurate -- that's why we have fantasy at all -- but if you're discussing something that is radically different from the world around us right now, you have some explaining to do. That's your job as an author. Anything less strikes me as you being lazy. You don't have to info-dump it, either. Make a story out of it.

    If your swords all cut through armor like lightsabers, then explain why anyone bothers to wear armor at all. Is it just a tradition?

    If people can get up and carry on about their business after being knocked out (it seems every fantasy hero can), tell me why; is this some race that is so intrinsically clumsy that they evolved the ability to sustain an otherwise crippling head blow?

    Your character carries a sword on his back. Cool! But, how does he put it back in the scabbard without stabbing himself through the lungs? (Try it. But use a blunt one the first few hundred times.) Give him a dozen scars across his scapulae and his hand from missed attempts; make a funny story out of it. Have other characters make fun of him, not knowing the years of practice he put in to be able to re-sheathe it. Now, we're in business.
    Vaporo, Gryphos, Russ and 4 others like this.
  5. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    Was just at a workshop where a presenter talked about realism in martial arts moves. For her, an unrealistic move took her right out of the story. One aspect she mentioned worth repeating here concerns the consequences of a move. A sweeping kick to the head is going to hurt not only the victim but also the attacker. Even a punch to the face is going to hurt--not just the knuckles but all the way up the arm. Experienced fighters feel the pain, too; they've conditioned themselves to get past it and keep fighting. An inexperienced fighter will not be able to do that.

    At the same time (she's also an editor), she cautioned against throwing in too many technical terms. Saying your character performed a tornado kick might mean something to you as the author, but I get no image at all from that. Pile up a few of these, and you might as well be reciting chemical formulae.

    One other anecdote about realism. Years ago I stumbled across the website of a typographer. He had a whole set of pages devoted to typographic mistakes in movies. He was a sensible sort of guy, freely admitting that this probably irked only him and a handful of others, but when he saw (for example) a movie supposedly set in the 1930s with a poster done in Helvetica, it took him right out of the moment. He said, memorably, that it was like seeing that scene with a Ford Mustang driving down the street.

    Anyone with a specialty is going to have specific problems with movie (or book) minutiae. Personally, I'm fine with medieval dresses with zippers, or Jazz Age posters in Helvetica. As long as you're telling me a good tale. And, I guess, as long as such mistakes don't pile up too high. An example here would be Braveheart. Lots of people liked the movie, but every medievalist I know despises it. The errors were both too numerous and too egregious to ignore.
    Devora, Malik and cydare like this.
  6. cydare

    cydare Minstrel

    Fantasy doesn't mean 'anything goes'. Unless it's a completely whimsical world there ought to be some sort of rules and structure that control what's possible and what isn't. Yes, the laws of physics can be different, but how are they different, why are they different, and are they kept consistent throughout?

    Of course, there are always those who take it too far. I recommended Mistborn to a friend recently who told me that he couldn't finish because it was unrealistic. He explained that magic isn't real, so books that pretend it is make no sense.
    Malik likes this.
  7. Chessie

    Chessie Guest

    Personally? I think some people are too picky. Yes, there are certain things you should get right or close to right, depending on your genre and audience. But I write for readers that want to be entertained and feel emotions along the reading journey. If you can't mentally travel to my story world without turning off your BS meter, then you're not in my audience. Every book has mistakes...there is NO perfect book. There's a lot I'll forgive if the story is good. If there's something off about the plot, unbelievable, or your characters are cardboard...then I'm out. But if you have an engaging story that's deep and entertaing, I'll forgive something weird or a mispelled word. However, if you don't know the difference between then vs than, or their they're there...that's a big peeve of mine lol.

    Far as realism in fantasy goes, my honest opinion is no. No, sorry. This is why I hate GOT & Martin. I don't want my fantasy to be realistic...that's why I read in the genre! Plot just has make sense. Characters have to make sense. Setting and magic and worlds need to honor their own rules. If I wanted realistic I'd read non-fiction.
    cydare likes this.
  8. Malik

    Malik Archmage

    This, right here. Make your reality what you want, but explain it (even if only to yourself) and keep it consistent.
    cydare likes this.
  9. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

    Fantasy (and all novels/stories, really) is a bit like watching a Jackie Chan movie, you have to go in expecting what you're going to get or you might be put off by the over-the-top action. I tend toward realism to cinematic realism in my preferences, I don't mind stretching reality, but if you break it too much, I'm not a fan. Most martial arts movies push my limits, unless they have an element of humor to show they aren't taking themselves too seriously.

    I am far more put off by literal impossibilities and crappy writing. I don't mind if magic will break stone or a door, but when you have the same door begin to break twice within a page or so... my lips will curl into a snarling chuckle. If you have a physical impossibility on page one (purely due to seriously crappy and lazy word choice/writing) as I saw in one #1 NYT best-seller's book, I assume the writer is mailing it in and doesn't deserve my attention or money.

    Also, real is subjective to the reader, and often based upon false assumptions, because they probably aren't going to take the time to research something. You could portray extremely realistic events and people won't believe it because they've notions structured upon anything from their personal (flawed) common sense to seeing something so many times in movies that they come to believe them possible or even impossible when the opposite is true.
    cydare likes this.
  10. evolution_rex

    evolution_rex Inkling

    It's more about keeping it consistent. If you're going to be realistic about one thing, you've got to make sure it stays realistic throughout. And it all correlates with tone.
  11. Peat

    Peat Sage

    Sure I know those people. Occasionally I am one of them.

    I mostly think they're too picky but, of course, every single one of my foibles that has me screaming at the page/screen is completely rational.

    There's two aspects of this to me.

    The first is that while I think media consumers should try to work with the creator in terms of accepting its a story and not everything can be explained or make perfect sense to everyone, the reality is that's a rational idea and the moment something completely totally breaks what we see as believable, we're having an emotional reaction and those generally supercede rational ideas. Readers, viewers etc.etc. they're gonna do it. As a writer - I'm afraid you have to live with it.

    The second is that just because some elements of your story are clearly reality-breaking, it doesn't mean everything can be reality-breaking. I'd say its the opposite. People need a frame of reference when they read a story. You're telling us dragon hide is super tough and we know that because it breaks swords. Cool. But if the swords go through plate armour like a knife through butter, then we don't know what that means anymore.

    And when you show the reader something they know, they're gonna assume it works like in this world and build their frame of reference about it. Which means that unless you explicitly call out that the laws of physics are different, people assume they still hold. Nothing you can do about it. So work with it.

    There is a middle ground here. I do think most complainers take things too far. Some of the things people complain about as unrealistic are personally absolutely absurd and/or factually wrong and/or represent a world view I strongly disagree with. I think most people don't care about fairly minor details as long as the story's good.

    But ultimately, whenever this topic comes up, I've gotta say as a writer "These people have a point and lets make our stories as good on this aspect as possible". And as mentioned by many other wise people here - that's not about reality as much as logical consistency. People complain about it being unrealistic but it basically comes down to a failure of logical consistency.

    And, in fairness, presenting reality as we know it then changing it without showing people how its different first is fairly lacking in consistency.
    Gryphos, Malik and cydare like this.
  12. glutton

    glutton Inkling

    I actually often use the 'sword goes right through plate armor' example being mentioned lol, but it's more that in my stories an average warrior will have trouble getting through armor with a sword and a particular character's armor might even be reputed to be 'impenetrable' but then one of the beastly heroines might cleave a 1500 lb armored boar clean in half from mouth to rear end, get through an 'impenetrable' armor with one hit or even take down a building sized magical mecha with only a melee weapon. Or a normal person might get stabbed in the side with a dagger and almost die and need magical healing, but the heroine gets impaled with a giant zweihander right through the guts, keeps fighting for multiple pages after and then walks it off... or the heroine deflects a volley from a gatling gun-esque weapon with her sword while no one else can even see the bullets, etc.

    In short, the massive unreality is reserved for certain characters to show how awesome/adorable they are XD
  13. I'm a bit late in coming to the conversation, but I'll contribute.

    Some people don't get the idea of fantasy and are determined to be wet blankets about everything. I'm not sure what can be done to help those people.

    But more often than not, the fault is on the author/creator's end rather than the reader's. Fantasy is made possible not as much through my ability to believe the impossible as through the author's ability to make the impossible seem plausible. The wildest, most wacko story will capture me if it's well put together, or at least has compelling characters as a foundation, but shoddy, lazily researched worldbuilding, partnered with a mediocre story (and let's face it, the majority of everything written is mediocre) can't be helped by any level of childlike imagination.

    Internal inconsistency is far more difficult to forgive than inconsistency with reality. Purposeful inconsistency with reality and accidental inconsistency with reality are two ENTIRELY different things. If the author made swords slice through plate armor, but knew what they did (maybe the swords are made from magical dragon ore) it's one thing. If the author made swords slice through plate armor because they didn't even bother to google "sword" let alone actually research, it's another. One I will gladly accept, the other will make me roll my eyes right out of their sockets.
    Smajdalf likes this.

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