Fiction = TrueLife? Roberts, CH 3

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Characters in fiction should be true to life...This is the standard of verisimilitude, probablility, or plausibility.

--Roberts, pg 69

I feel like I have to contradict this statement made by Roberts. I'm not saying that he's entirely wrong here--I just think he's forgetting about the gray area. And let's face it...with literature, there is always a gray area.
Probability. Now there's a word to be consider. It's all about what a character *should* do--what a  human *would* do. But sometimes, authors decide to throw the good 'ole curve ball and make their characters do something completely off the wall. It makes things interesting. Think about it. If characters *always* did what we expected, where would the fun in that be? It's like playing The Sims...sometimes they just act exactly like humans. They go to the bathroom, they eat, they sleep, they procreate--anyway, the point is, every once in a while, something bizarre will happen--they'll have an alien baby or something, and suddenly, your interest is sparked again! The same applies with characters in literary works. Those moments when the characters break through the molding are the parts that mean the most. They keep readers interested. So what if the cactus doesn't act like a human...it's not a human after all, is it? And let's just keep this in mind...if characters in Fiction always acted like people in True Life, wouldn't we be able to classify them as characters of Non-fiction? Just saying...Roberts needs to stop being so black and white.

As for the rest of the chapter, it was a lot of review--again. Round and flat characters, dynamic and static. Having said that, I thought the essay section of this chapter was exceptionally helpful compared to the previous ones.

4 Comments

Dave said:

I definately agree. If Roberts is completely right, I have wasted A LOT of time in literature classes reading bad fiction with unrealistic characters. Beowulf? The guy got in a swimming race that lasted for five days and only lost because he had to spend several hours under water killing a bunch of sea-beasts with a sword. Who takes a sword swimming? How does one swing it under water, let alone after holding their breath for several hours? Not one thing mentioned there is vaguely plausible.

Jessie Author Profile Page said:

Haha, good point about Beowulf. I mean, I know it was an epic poem and all, but in some ways, I feel like it was TOO epic. Even the Odyssey didn't have such outlandish ideas. I don't think Roberts really took sci-fi or fantasy into consideration when he decided to make that bold statement.

Aja Hannah said:

Yeah! I liked your point about the gray areas. I've been bored with fiction/literature lately because the characters and plots are so predictable. The same with television. To get away from this boredom, I moved away to different culture's media like Japanese manga and Anime, because then I at least am not always sure of what is going to happen and I learn about the life of another country.

If everything was probably, we wouldn't have our twist endings.

Dave said:

I definately agree with you as far as things seeming predictable, Aja. However, I agree with Roberts that some adherence to reality keeps the story from getting too out of hand. (Though certainly not to the degree he suggests) It just seems like writers are erring way too far on the side of caution, leaving their stories completely unimaginative, in favor of being realistic. I guess I feel the same way about reality in novels, as I do about it on TV: If there is nothing to make their fictional reality more remarkable than my own reality, I gain more from going to the bar.

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