There seems to have been quite a cultural shift over recent years from campy and quirky fiction to gritty, dark, and realistic fiction. I use the word “realistic” somewhat loosely, since there is only so real fiction can ever get, and that is okay and sort of the point of being entertained by that genre.
In order for a fictional world to work, there need to be guidelines that make that world believable. However, I feel realism is one of those things that is a bit tricky to define. I know it when I see it.
I do intentionally utilize more modern language in Goandria, even though it is set in medieval-like world. One could argue that this is not a realistic concept, and my counter would be that just because there is renaissance-type technology doesn’t mean that there should be any presuppositions with their language. Goandria, after all, is a completely different world. On the other hand, I would argue that if my stories did take place in our world, even an alternate version of our world, than utilizing modern language would be inappropriate and unrealistic. I would also argue that utilizing crude or vulgar language in an Earth medieval setting is not realistic either. However, good luck finding many modern fantasy novels that don’t do that…
This small example is just that, small. I referenced dark and gritty becoming mainstream instead of campy and fun. I have to admit, Goandria: The Schism is fairly dark, but that is because of the purpose of it. I do not think that dark and gritty always equates better or more realistic, though. Overall, I would like to see a more balanced approach, somewhere between dark and campy. A little humor, or lack of seriousness, can go a long way when telling a story, even a serious one. I enjoyed the Dark Knight movie series. It offered a relatively fresh take on Batman, and it wasn’t ridiculously silly. However, it did not offer much in the line of comic relief or even a whole lot of hope, especially in the middle movie. Sure, it was believable, but the other issue I want to address is how necessary is that approach? With the Dark Knight, I felt the suspense that Batman must have felt, especially at the end. But I don’t remember anyone laughing. Well, save for the Joker, but that doesn’t’ count. There were no quips that come to mind, just a spiral downward into darkness.
I guess my point is that as authors, we can make things realistic without making them overly dark, campy, or stereotypical. There are many ways to make a story realistic, and we should strive to use those to make our works good and new. Realism can be helpful, but it needs guidelines within the world of the story to keep it from straying too far one way or the other.
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