As a writer, I draw upon realism to create antirealistic worlds. As a reader, I have to accept truth on different terms when I immerse myself in a book and believe in the fantastical world the story is about. Versimilitude is the appearance of being real or true. It’s important when it comes to both writing and filmmaking, and is an art that requires skill and technique to make your reader believe that what they are reading is actually true.
You can have ideologies, plots, and characters that are realistic in a totally fantastic, extraordinary, antirealistic world or setting. Even if you are writing a sci-fi novel about robots and extraterrestrial beings and space and time travel, you can still connect with your readers on a deep, personal level. Strange as this may seem, you know it’s true. The characters and the experiences they go through in your favorite fantasy or sci-fi books resonate with you and your experiences. Once you relate with the characters and understand the problems they have, it’s easier to feel for them, to root for them, as well as appreciate the setting they are in. It’s just one of the many reasons why science fiction and fantasy is such a popular getaway or mode of entertainment for many of us. It’s one of the reasons how I, a totally mundane muggle and aspiring author, can write the most extraordinary, out-of-this-world, bizarre stories involving places and things and technology and super abilities that don’t exist or no one’s even thought of before. Not only do science fiction and fantasy temporarily provide us an escape route into a unique and immersive world, it also has what every single story and myth since the dawn of mankind has had: Characters. A problem. Strengths. Weaknesses. A hero. A villain. And a story that we all can connect with.
Antirealistic stories need something to build off of, and that’s realism. Sci-fi and fantasy take the struggles we all have, the fears and the joys and the triumphs and the horrors we humans have in common, and put those realistic traits in a totallly speculative, make-believe, magical, and unrealistic world or setting. The characters themselves may even be far from human, but if they have feelings, or experiences, and obstacles to overcome that remind us of ourselves, that will pull us into the story even more than the fantastical arrangement that conflict and the lives of the characters take place in.
It’s nearly impossible to write a compelling story without characters. You can create an amazing, unique, and well rounded world complete with different cultures, religions, and ways of living. You can make your own languages, build your own kingdoms, develop markets and economies and modes of transportation, communication, traditions, and systems in every aspect of life in that world. But no one will be drawn to it, immersed in it, or as interested in reading any of it unless it features a cast of characters with a hero and a villain, both with backstories, motives, relationships, and a problem they’re trying to fix and/or trying to defeat. Just like us. Just like our ordinary, normal, maybe even seemingly boring lives.
But none of our lives are boring. Heck, how is that even possible, when no one on planet Earth is exactly the same?
You say “life is boring, let’s go watch a movie and be entertained.” And sure, entertainment does come in the forms of CGI, action, violence, plots, settings, etc., etc. But I should say that most of that entertainment comes from the charaters who, deep down inside, are people just like us.
Every good and widely acclaimed science fiction and fantasy story features antirealistic elements, yes. But the main reason we are drawn to stories like these is because of the realism that we compare to our everyday lives. We see ourselves and our experiences in both the characters of superhero and the evil villain. And that draws us in. And, if the story has a deeper meaning behind it, perhaps we’ll walk away with an inspiring thought or something we’ve learned, and if that happens to a future reader of mine, my main goal as a writer will have been reached.
What are your thoughts on the subject? How do you use realistic aspects of life in your work of fiction, and how do you use realism to connect your readers to your characters’ story? Remember (and I can’t stress this enough): Characters are the most important thing in a story. A story isn’t a story without characters. And characters can be anybody, anything. As long as a story has characters, a story has creativity, a plot, a conflict, and a reason to keep reading, and writing, the story. And in this case, no matter how antirealistic your story is, realism counts.
Best of luck to my fellow writers and thank y’all for reading! Don’t forget to follow the blog and check out my other posts on writing! May the Force and your pen be with you.