Stories / Writing

When Does it Get too Real?

Here’s your warning, I’m about to talk about some high level details and concepts of a scene in my book. If you think that’ll spoil something for you (I don’t think it will) stop reading now.

If you’re still with me, gimme a high five and I’ll see what I can do to run you off in the next few minutes. If you know me, you know that I pay attention to details. I didn’t choose to be that way, my brain just likes details. This is reflected in my current profession (Video Game QC), and if you’ve ever discussed a book with me (or read a review I’ve written), you know it’s reflected in how I read. I will notice conflicting details; it’s just something I naturally do. Knowing that, I’ve got a story for you.

Earlier today I was discussing a scene in my book with my fiance that I had some trepidation over. The kid inside me, who loves swords and fireballs, really wants to keep the scene. He thinks it’s badass. The Vulcan who shares a living space with the kid poked about five holes in the scene. The Vulcan thinks the scene is illogical.

I’ve got one side of me throwing a tantrum and screaming “IT’S A DAMN FANTASY NOVEL” (the kid has a terrible mouth on him), while the other side calmly states “Yes, but this doesn’t make sense. Fiction has to make sense.”

Now you’re gonna need a little context to understand the next part (it’s the best part). To give you that context, I’ve gotta tell you a little about a scene in my book, I don’t really think it’s spoilery, (no major plot elements or twists are revealed, hell it doesn’t even really tell you anything major about the story itself) but if you think knowing about the simple existence of a scene will ruin something for you, stop reading now. You’ve been warned twice now, if you ruin something, you did this to yourself.

In my book, characters are paired with swords, but only after they’ve done a very large amount of training. I had some issues with how the scene played out due to the fact that all these people undergo the same training and then each is given a slightly different sword that best suits them. This doesn’t make a ton of sense because a sword’s shape and make define how it is supposed to be used. A Rapier is a stabbing weapon, a Katana is a slashing weapon. They are, functionally speaking, about as far apart as you can get with in the realm of swords. But I really like the idea of this scene, so naturally, I discussed it with my fiance. This is what she said to me.

“Rhea smiled as she grabbed a sword nearly wider than she was and taller than she was. It gleamed in the light. A large black man jumped from the shadows and said “That’s a buster sword, jackass.””




Now if you don’t get the joke, or the brilliant illustration it makes, you’ve most likely never played Final Fantasy VII, and I’m sorry for that. You should do something about it, but for now, this will help.


Maybe he’s compensating for something?

One of the most iconic and memorable characters of all the Final Fantasy games is Cloud Strife. The first time you meet Cloud, he’s wielding a comically oversized sword. And it does absolutely nothing to diminish him as a character. It doesn’t make him less believable. Hell if anything, it makes him that much more memorable.

Now what does this mean? It means that we’re writing fantasy! Sure, the details of your world do need to be consistent. Something a simple as minor breach of your details can result in your world exploding like an atom bomb. But that doesn’t mean that the details need to be 100% realistic–we’re throwing around fireballs here. We’ve suspend our belief and left realism behind, and it’s important to remember that.

I’m not telling you to give your characters horse-sized weapons; that could get a little ridiculous. I’m telling you that it’s alright if a little bit of your fantasy conflicts with the logic and hard truths of the reality we live in. If you’ve done your job well, it won’t hurt your characters, it should only serve to make them more memorable.  


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