dragons

Realistic Vs Believable

I write mainly horror and fantasy, so my work is full of things that either don’t exist, can’t exist, or most people wouldn’t accept existing. Demons, guardian spirits, soul transference, sympathetic magic, mind reading, ghosts and were-kittens have all appeared in manuscripts I have written or I’m currently writing. In exploring these topics, there are two levels of acceptance I need to get from the reader.

Whatever genre a story falls under, it is important to get the reader to accept all aspects of it from the setting to the characters and their motivations. If the reader stops accepting what they are being presented, then they can get confused or frustrated with the book and in the worst case, they’ll put it down and not pick it up again.

But in my opinion, there’s a difference between being realistic, and being believable.

Realism applies to things that exist in the real world. Even in fantasy, realism is important. Normal people cannot just pick up a sword and become world-class fighters. Horses have limits in how much they can carry and how far they can run. Different weapons have different purposes, skills required to use them, and effects on armour. If you have no magical healing system, injury and infection are major risks to your characters. Some things will only be criticized up by the very nit-picky readers, and most will forgive a good story minor transgressions, but a bit of research can go a long way to making the story realistic.

But what if you do have a magical healing system? What if travellers watch the sky for dragons, or the undead stalk abandoned supermarkets? What if there are aspects of you book that will never be realistic? Given the number of fantasy books published, not to mention all the other genres that aren’t fully realistic, there isn’t a problem in getting readers to pick them up. If you’re anything like me, I prefer to be taken away from reality as much as possible.

It still has to be believable though. I still have to accept whatever wild wonderful ideas you throw at me in a book. Mostly it comes down to consistency. When you set up the rules of your world, you need to keep to them. If you tell me dragons need to eat a hundred sheep a day, then send your dragon riders into a desolate wasteland for a week, I’m going to expect there to be some negative effects on their mounts. If your super prototype giant robot defeats all adversaries without so much as a scratch until badly damaged by a tank simply because the plot requires it to fail at that point, I’m going to rage.

So, flying, fire-breathing lizards are not realistic. If you tell me you saw one flying over Bristol, I’m going to wonder what you’ve been smoking. But if you build the world right, I’ll happily dive into a fictional story and consider them no less believable than horses or turnips.

Book Review – Destinies Intertwined

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Destinies Intertwined by Gaytri Deshmukh

Lark isn’t your normal princess. She’s the princess of Myrinor, an influential kingdom with a rich history. Along with that title come great responsibilities, such as learning swordplay, trying her best to be the perfect role model, and most importantly, hiding her deepest secret. As days go by, she discovers that her best friend, Julian, is not what he seems. An ancient curse resurfaces from the past and drags them both into the heart of a forgotten kingdom. The fates of both kingdoms rest in their hands. The quest begins to end it all.

Score: 3 stars Breakdown:

Plot – 2.5

Characters – 3

Writing – 3.5

This is a strong book, if you want to sit down for an afternoon of escapism. It’s got a princess, mythical creatures, true love and an evil villain. Sometimes that’s exactly what I am in the mood for: a story that takes me away from the real world and deposits me in a new place where I can have faith that good will conquer evil and love will win out in the end. The writing is fluid, the descriptions shine and the writer never descends into language that is pretty but meaningless. There are a few typos but nothing that would detract from enjoying the book. I didn’t like the multiple punctuation (?! is used frequently) or capitalised words, but again, that doesn’t effect the reading.

I liked Julian, the dragon shape-shifter love interest.  He’s easy on the metal eye and perfect for escapist fiction with his strong arms and dedication to the main character, Lark. I wanted to like her more. Her full name, Gaylark, was really pretty in my opinion, and I enjoyed the fact the book opened with her sword fighting. To be fair, there was little bad about Lark as a person. She wasn’t whiny, spoiled or selfish, and she has a strong and determined spirit. She just didn’t really do much. I quite liked Seth, too and I was glad the author refrained from setting up a love triangle. His development was predictable, but it was a comfortable sort of predictable, like well worn shoes.

While Lark is not quite a sit in the tower and wait to be rescued type princess, she’s not terribly instrumental in moving the plot, either. While Julian fights for her, she rescues him from a siren simply by being in the same room. She doesn’t do anything, but the siren would rather deal with her than him and he gets away. There is a plot reason for this, but it makes the rescue feel anticlimactic. She is instrumental in the climax of the book, but it doesn’t feel like something she alone could have done. Things happened a bit easily in the book for me to feel the tension. At least two major plot items fall into Lark’s lap, one almost literally and just in the nick of time. Julian’s identity feels convenient and mostly unnecessary. It only really has an impact on the events right at the end. The villain’s plan didn’t really let me know how he was going to take over the kingdom. It was just accepted that he would.  I think I would have enjoyed the book more if I felt like Lark was working for the victory more.

Despite that, I did enjoy the book. It’s good escapism, the sort of tale you can wrap yourself up in to shut out the complications and contradictions of the real world. You probably won’t be surprised by anything in it, but sometimes it’s nice to see where you’re going. I did think the last line was an adorable mixture of cheesy and cute. You can buy Destinies Intertwined on Amazon and Smashwords, and catch up with the author on Figment,  and Goodreads.