By Brenna Lyons
Every author comes to this moment eventually. The moment in question is the moment when you realize that truth really is stranger than fiction.
When you write an incredibly complex and seemingly nonsensical series of choices, made by a character or group of characters, that lead to an odd end...and you're not writing some sort of parody, you're told it's too outrageous, and no one will believe it. But, when someone really does makes that series of nonsensical, complex choices, it's fact...and while readers of the news reports still can't believe it happened, the facts are there, and it did.
How is an author to win, in such a situation? We get slammed for writing characters that are TSTL (too stupid to live), but people like that really exist. We get slammed for writing characters who are too two-dimensionally simple-minded and/or petty, but they exist. We get slammed for writing characters who are wholly evil and just get off on making other people miserable, but that's your basic emotional vampire in the flesh.
This is an almost comical hole in the idea of book realism vs. book fantasy world. Even books set in the "real contemporary world" and billed as being "non-fantasical" have elements of fantasy to them. By insisting that authors not write people as screwed up as they really are, we often create a fantastical world, even in books that aren't supposed to be fantasy.
Anyone who says a character can't be that stupid needs to read the military accident reports I used to get. Better yet, read the
Now, I'll be the first to admit that characters like these aren't your typical hero/heroine material, unless you want to write the stereotypical hapless idiot hero. But, that doesn't mean that these characters are somehow unreal. In all actuality, an entire world full of competent, intelligent, nice people is about as unreal as you can get.
Oh yes...I've written that world, come to think of it...