RealityTV01-07-11What is the balance between reality and the unreal, between truth and fantasy? As a reader, how much truth do you want? Let’s face it. Reality is boring. We read to escape reality, not to study it. That’s science, another topic for another day.

24: It’s a good example. Jack Bauer drives from Oakland to LAX in ten minutes, something we know to be a 45 minute drive with no traffic and some bending of local speed statutes. But for the sake of the show, we also don’t want to watch Jack drive for 45 minutes while his world falls apart miles away. We root for him to get there, to fix it in time. After all, he’s the hero.

At some point though, the put on drama gets to be too much. We want a dose of reality. Can jack really get the crap beat out of him and an hour later fight a hoard of spies, who apparently, despite their taxpayer-funded training can’t hit a thing with their pistols? Is he the only expert shot in the group?

Balance: One of the keys to keeping you hooked is balance. As a reader, how much can you take? What is the point where you shut off the show or movie, walk out, or put the book down never to go back to it? How much fiction is too much fiction?

Taking itself too seriously: There’s a difference between James Bond or Jackie Chan and Fast and the Furious, Torque, and Biker Boys. What makes one group better than the other? A part is that the latter group takes itself too seriously. (you can say what you will about how good or bad they are). If the unreality is portrayed as “hey we know this is unrealistic, but it’s fun to watch/read” the viewer/reader is more inclined to tolerate suspension of physics (i.e. Batman). As a reader or viewer, what’s the breaking point for you? When is it too much fun, and not enough reality? When is it too much seriousness and not enough fun?

The author’s job in whatever he/she writes is to take you out of reality, and make you believe for a little while that dragons exist, people fly, and the universe is close enough to travel to if you have the right warp drive or worm hole. Tell us readers, what makes these things believable to you? What draws you into a story?

Feel free to leave comments. We love to hear all of your ideas.