Friday, January 13, 2012

Portraying Reality in Fiction

 Reality. It's a cold word, one that usually jerks us back from whatever daydream we dared to have. When it is uttered, it is usually said in a sad or bitter way with lips curling up at the sides and everything. When a writer writes fantasy, the goal is often to allow the reader to escape from whatever reality they happen to be in (even though they might borrow traces from the real world and bend it to their will).
A realistic fiction writer has to write it the way it is, however. The goal of the realistic fiction writer isn't to make readers escape from reality but to face it. Some realistic fiction writers write about shallow, mundane things and others write about big problems that make you think. Fantasy writers can do this, of course, by basing things off of things in the real world but realistic fiction forces you to do this in a much more direct way.
My new story idea requires me to write about a whole range of issues and in a whole different set of ways. I'm writing in a variety of genders, ages and personalities. I'm having a great time with it right now.
I am trying to face reality in the most direct way possible through the new story idea that I've started to write. I consider this quite a heavy task because many of the characters are so unlike me and have so many unique problems.

It's actually a lot of fun but I've noticed that there is a distinct art with portraying reality. It makes or breaks a piece of writing. Telling from some of Jodi Picoult's later books (she's on a downward spiral, currently), if you don't realistically portray an issue than it ruins the whole story.

Obviously, people who seek out realistic fiction books seek them out for a reason. They are looking to connect with the characters and an issue, even if they never knew about it previously before. As a writer, you have to give them that. If you cut corners and don't do your research, it can impact a lot of things.

Also, telling from some of the YA books I've read, how you portray a certain reality is very important. Some of the YA books that I've read such as Speak, Thirteen Reasons Why, and Crank save lives and help kids come out with the issues that they face. It's also informed kids about these issues, including me.

The issues that many authors and I portray, however, are issues that many would like to sweep under the rug. Many just want to turn away and pretend some issues don't happen like bullying and even more serious issues like teen drug use, rape, eating disorders, etc. These people claim to protect children but really, by keeping them ignorant, they are harming them.

It should also be noted that the world isn't exactly a terrible place, either, and there are plenty of beautiful, fun things to write about alongside the bad. I think books help to capture all of this in a new way and can give the reader a bird's eye view on the topic.

Portraying reality is something that I believe every writer should undertake, whether they are a fantasy writer or not. There are just some things that need to be exposed, dealt with and shared for the rest of the world.

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