R – Realism

RI recently hit back upon the literary terms Realistic and Romantic literature. It was the topic of what is maybe the best blog post I have written. I thought it would be good to consider them a moment here with the A to Z Challenge.

Realistic fiction is, to me, set here in our real world, or very near to it. Here we see people a little like us, or maybe a little not like us, handling situations we might find ourselves in. For me, reading something like this is kind of like playing a sports video game: something that, if I wanted to experience it myself, I would just go out and do it. However, there are plenty of people who read these sorts of works, who love them, all that.

Romantic fiction, meanwhile, is the sort of fiction full of experiences outside of the ordinary. Be it sword and sorcery, space and aliens, steam and gears, angels and demons… You can do whatever you want in romantic literature. This is the realm where geeks live and thrive, and if my other blog Comparative Geeks didn’t give it away, I would definitely call myself a geek. This is my stuff – this is what I consume, what I hope to create, and what I defend when I write posts like this.

And by defend, I mean that there are often cases where large parts of romantic literature are discounted – in academic scholarship, in the “canon” and what is taught in schools, etc. Some of my main frustration, though, comes when dealing with someone who does not *get* the idea of romantic literature, of fantasy and science fiction and fiction in general. The sort of person who is the opposite of me, who reads only realistic works.

Because while I can wholly understand what realistic literature is, what sorts of experiences it might contain within it, and what sorts of characters, that doesn’t mean I have to read it. However, for the person who doesn’t really touch romantic literature – they may not wholly get the idea of it, or the appeal. They often, in my opinion, miss out on the very idea of imagination and fiction in writing. My favorite example is still probably the Da Vinci Code, which had people up in arms against it, as though it was presenting truth. It’s fiction, everybody.

I guess I technically chose the term Realism, so let me close by saying that realism is important in either type of writing. Realism can be created by following realistic chains of cause and effect, or the laws of physics, or a solid understanding of how people act and react, or any number of other subtle or overt measures. And, by removing elements of the real world, it is often even more important that there are elements which hold down realism – like having internally-consistent rules for how magic works within a fantasy universe.

It stands out when realism is thrown out the window, and if done, should be done on purpose. Whether it’s magical realism or adult animated TV shows (The Simpsons, Family Guy, South Park… realism tells us Kenny is assuredly dead), the lack of realism can stand out, and can be used purposefully to tell a story as well.

Oh, and Romantic Literature need not have a romance in it, though that doesn’t seem to stop it from happening…

I feel like I should have a question and I don’t. What are your thoughts on these two large groupings of literature? Let me know!

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About CompGeekDavid
Co-founder, editor, podcaster, web comicer, forum moderator, and writer for Comparative Geeks. Father, husband, geek, nerd, gamer, librarian, Christian, Libertarian, Science Fiction philosopher, and probably a number of other descriptors.

5 Responses to R – Realism

  1. Just stopping by from the A-Z list to say “Hi” and good luck with the rest of the challenge 🙂

    Great post! xx

    Like

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