Fantastical Tales of Phenomenal Wonder discussion

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Writing in Fantasy > Realism VS Believability

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Eric | 26 comments Have you ever read a book where something happened that completely broke the immersion? Have you ever mentioned this problem to someone, only for them to reply with something like,

"You're fine with reading a book with dragons in it, but you complain when a 4'9 female character single-handedly destroys an army of full grown males, who's only occupation for their entire lives has been murder? It's fantasy, get over it!"

Responses of this sort can often leave people at a loss for words. After all, why are these little things important? Why can you read a book where someone shoots fire from their fingertips and still be immersed, but lose that sense of immersion when a character draws a longsword from over their shoulder with one hand in the blink of an eye? (Which isn't possible unless you have arms twice as long as your body.)

The answer that I have come to is Believability. What I mean by this is that a fantasy story doesn't have to be realistic, but it does have to be believable.

What do you think?


❄Elsa Frost❄ (elsafrost) I have to agree. I like how you worded it as believable, though I tend to word it as realistic regardless (simply because whatever happens should be realistic in the world's setting). But I like the way you've worded it.

I once read a book, Thunder, where the author put that one of the characters got bitten by a snake. And then the author didn't mention the snake bite anymore, almost as if it had somehow vanished with no reason or telling why. That confused me to no end because the book never explained what happened there. I would have accepted the author putting the character somehow healing the wound with either a super-power or with medical supplies (or any attempt to heal it without medical supplies, or even if the character realized that it wasn't a serious wound and was easily treatable. But the author didn't do this. It was definitely not realistic nor believable in any sort of way.

On the other hand, I've read books--for example, Red Queen--where the main character suddenly realizes she has a super-power. But the author makes sure the main character questions why it never popped up before. And then the author proceeds to explain throughout the stories why it never showed up in any form before.

In short, a story must make sense and stick to whatever happens to the characters, the story, the plot, and so on. It's crucial, because otherwise people like me notice these types of mistakes.


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Fantastical Tales of Phenomenal Wonder

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Books mentioned in this topic

Thunder (other topics)
Red Queen (other topics)