Friday, April 20, 2012

R is for Reality

Reality check time, or at least some people sure need it, or so I have noticed.

Reality check: A word or phrase used to bring a person back into the life of those around them, sometimes used to smash hopes and dreams.

Don't get me wrong, I love ignoring reality. I write after all. I'd much rather spend my days not working but staying at home and playing in the fantasy worlds in my head. My characters are far more entertaining than part time minimum wage work at the deli. But I can't stay away from reality for too long because then I would become out of touch and that leads to more problems.

Reality can also help us as writers. Even when doing speculative fiction in worlds very different than our own having at least one foot in the realm of reality can help make a story stronger and for readers to want to read it. Readers like to have a link to reality in a story, no matter how fantastical the world involves.

Reality checks can also be good for character development. I love a character who dreams, who yearns for something more but the end result doesn't have to be the complete success of the dream in the way they expected/desired. In the book The Forest of Hands and Teeth, she dreams of finding the ocean and while those in her village think she needs to focus on reality, she follows her dream but the end result isn't what she expected.

So, while dreaming can be good, there needs to be more as well.

What do you think?
Do your characters get a reality check at some point?


Angeline Trevena said...

Whenever anyone says 'reality check' to me I'm pretty sure it'll be bad news - ha!

It's true though, even speculative fiction needs an essence of reality and believability. And I love throwing harsh reality checks at my characters - I'm quite mean to them really!

Stephanie said...

Great post. Every story needs to have a firm basis in reality. Even the most epic high fantasy, or space opera that spans a thousand galaxies, has to be relate-able to readers. They need to have that sense that this is a world they could live in, and people they could interact with.

And keeping in touch with reality helps you keep your world and characters real.

Dawn Embers said...

Angeline - It can be when we are the one receiving the comment instead of giving it. Pesky reality checks, lol. My characters get reality checks too but I'm still kinda nice to them.

Stephanie - Aww, thanks. Exactly, having something to ground the reader in the story is necessary.

DeniseCovey_L_Aussie said...

Yep when editing those characters really need to be examined.