Friday, December 31, 2010

Last post of 2010

Well, it's my very last chance to post in 2010 and I realize I still owe you a venn diagram, but that will have to wait a little bit longer. I also owe you some thoughts about believability in fiction. On that note, I've just finished listening to another book in the fantasy genre, Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy which I enjoyed very much. It's sort of a cross between a fairy story and a hard-boiled detective novel. When 12 year-old Stephanie's uncle dies, she inherits his estate which includes the key to a magical object that an evil sorcerer would kill her to obtain. The titular character was a friend of Stephanie's uncle and, believing he was murdered, tries to find out what the killers were after. Stephanie joins Skulduggery, a living skeleton and an elemental mage, in his investigations and discovers a magical world in which she plays an important role. This book was very smartly written and the banter between Stephanie and Skulduggery is sharp and witty.

So again, we have a story with unreal characters and action, in which magic and magical creatures exist, and yet the story seems more believable than the one set in the real world in which a group of kids receive no consequences for breaking and entering (Swindle). Why is this? I think the answer is that no matter what world the story takes place in, there have to be rules, laws, and logic that must be obeyed. For instance, if the story is about vampires, there is already an accepted mythos that writers have been working within since Dracula was published. We all know that vampires drink blood, are undead and immortal, cannot go out in the sunlight, and must be killed by driving a stake through their hearts, in general. There is some variation of these rules among different writers, however, if they stray to far from the accepted rules - like vampires that sparkle in the sun - they lose some credulity.
In real life, if a group of kids broke in to someone's house and caused a lot of damage to the property, there would most definitely be consequences. These are the rules that we live by and accept. I just didn't buy it when the man suddenly felt guilty about cheating the kid out of his baseball card and decided not to press charges for the break in. It just didn't ring true to his character as it was set up in the first part of the book. Plus, I'm not sure that once the police were involved that they would just let it go either.
I've read or heard author interviews where they comment about this sort of thing, and they talk about finding truth in fiction, that within the world of lies they create, they can express something honest about the real world. I think the stories that I like best come from authors who do this best, at least from my perspective, because what feels true to me will be different for someone else.
So I guess the point is, a believable story follows its own rules and conveys truth about the world that we can relate to.
And this is what I was working on while listening to Skulduggery Pleasant:

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