So last night hubby and I got around to watching the season finale of Glee. Apart from some awesome moments (Kurt and Rachel on the stage of Wicked), it was overall rather lame and disappointing. That’s not actually what I want to talk about, just an observation.
Now I love Glee. I am a former show choir member (my husband sent up many prayers of thanks when I FINALLY forgot all my choreography and stopped bursting into random spates of dance in public whenever any of my old numbers came on), so I am very familiar with how show choir really works.
It does NOT mean learning full shows and completely different numbers from week to week. And it definitely doesn’t mean being sent home to learn songs for sing offs or to learn something. You have a defined set list (at least we did) almost like rehearsing for a musical play (just without the acting). And yeah, you’re learning new music, but the whole thing is building toward something and it takes, at the very least, weeks, if not months of rehearsals to learn the music and all the choreography (assuming the plan is a full length show–which is what we did–and not just competition where you are limited to 1-3 songs, as I recall). You don’t change your numbers from State level competitions to Nationals unless there was something horribly wrong with State (in which case you’re probably not GOING to Nationals).
Obviously I can overlook this because the reality wouldn’t make a very entertaining story from week to week and I really LOVE all the musical numbers and characters bursting into random song and dance. I mean, I harbor a deep and secret desire for real life to mimic that classic episode of Buffy, Once More With Feeling. But as I was watching this episode where they’ve gone to New York for Nationals, I’m shaking my head at how Will is being totally irresponsible as a teacher, with the kids running around like crazy, unchaperoned people (seriously? This day in age, a teacher could get fired for that), not rehearsing, and the fact that they aren’t writing the music until literally days before the competition. Sorry, that completely surpasses my threshold of believability. You can’t make up the song and all the choreography and have a whole group learn it 2 days before a national competition and then come in 12th. Sorry.
And that kind of brings me to my point. How much reality do we need to put in fiction?
Some things we can generally get away with. Like in suspense and thriller fiction, most readers will overlook the fact that forensics NEVER get done in real life as fast as they do in books or on TV. There are a smaller set of us that aren’t willing to overlook that if the science is wrong. I’m totally that chick that watches these CSI shows and goes “that’s not how that works.” My hubs is like that for tech stuff. We watched the latest episode of Primeval the other night and he was scoffing “there’s no such thing as a ground penetrating radar satellite.”
Sometimes you have a lot more latitude. I obviously write in the paranormal. There’s mostly not the same kind of reality restrictions on that where there’s a right and wrong way to do things (although I had one reader insist that there was and gave me a lecture on how I got the magic drakyn forge that I made up in Devil’s Eye all wrong). Obviously there you have to go for a different kind of reality. Your characters need to be/feel real to the reader. And, if relevant, it helps to sprinkle in real world details to help draw your readers into the fantastic.
Anyway, these are just some of my random thoughts. How much reality do you require in your fiction? What’s your turn it off/throw the book trigger?