Reality vs. Fiction

So a few weeks ago I read this article about how the world in the Hunger Games is basically bullshit. If you don’t want to click the linky (and I don’t know why you wouldn’t because don’t we all click every link in an article or is that just me), this is the article in a nutshell: using the Hungar Games to politically control the populace wouldn’t work in the real world. (Really, go read the article. The author says it way better than I can). This fact hasn’t done anything to dampen the popularity of these books or movies. Even my friends (writers and mundanes alike) who would agree with the points of this article like the books and watch the movies. The lack of reality hasn’t dampened their enjoyment of the story at all.

Which brings me to the point of this post. How much do readers care about accuracy in fiction, anyway? Is it a function of popularity? If all our friends like a book, are we less likely to care if it’s completely accurate? Or maybe it’s the characters. If the characters are likable–the argument can be made that Katniss is likable, or at the very least a Strong Female Protagonist–then do we care less if the situations the characters find themselves in are less than real? Or maybe it’s all about story. If the story is well-told and fully-realized, then perhaps we don’t mind as much if the world is just a bit off.

My answer, as it usually does, comes down to story. If the story is engaging and compelling, readers are willing to forgive a certain amount of inaccuracies and illogical assumptions. It’s tricky, though. It doesn’t matter how great a story is; at a certain point the weight of “unreality” will crush it.


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