One day, I was blog hopping and read another blogger's review of a book I had also read. This reader had given the book a slightly lower rating [than I did] because she felt that the opening scene was not realistic enough for the book's setting, which got me thinking about reality in fiction.
The book in question here is One Good Earl Deserves a Lover, a historical romance by Sarah MacLean. In this story, our heroine is engaged to be married but is concerned about her inexperience in intimate matters, so she propositions our would-be hero whom she has to convince to "educate" her.
Honestly, this blogger wasn't wrong. It's clear to see how this particular scene would have been highly improbable for the time period that it's set in. However, this scene is an important one because it's the catalyst for the entire book's plot so does this now mean that the book isn't as good as it could've been had the opening made more sense?
I was willing to be more forgiving for the sake of fiction, particularly where unlikely romances are involved. I feel that sometimes authors have to take some creative license in terms of how "realistic" to make certain scenes if it means making it work for the story.
Ok, so authors take A LOT of creative license - but then that's okay if you're writing science fiction, or dystopian, or high fantasy, right? What about with the little things though, like how two characters meet? Are you less willing to overlook it because it's too small a detail to cross the line from the logical to the fantastic?
My opinion is that no one knows a story better than its author and so they know what their characters have to do to get to the next plot point. However, does this necessarily mean that it's okay for characters to do things that don't make sense? Yes and no. Even fiction has to have limitations. I am willing to accept a changes like the one in this book because it's relevant to the story. Now had our Victorian heroine showed up in a BMW to meet the hero...then I'd be like, uh NO! Besides, this is a romance and I want the irrational, illogical, sweep me off my feet kind of story!
Tell me, dear readers, how much reality do you like in your fiction? What kind of details are you willing or unwilling to overlook?