Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Gravity of Inaccuracies in Fiction

“Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; truth isn't.” – Mark Twain

My husband and I saw the movie “Gravity” recently because it received such great reviews (top critics rated it 100 percent fresh on RottenTomatoes.com).  My husband is an aerospace engineer with a background in orbital mechanics (how things move in space).  After the movie, I asked him if there were any blatant errors in science and he said, “Pretty much everything.” Still, that didn’t completely ruin his movie-going experience because it was an interesting story 
We tend to give authors/storytellers some flexibility with fiction because it’s fiction! I think the problem is when inaccuracies pop a reader/viewer out of the story, asking “Can that really happen?”
I can suspend belief and logic far more easily when reading a book like The Hunger Games. The book is set in a dystopian future so we’re allowed to believe that technology has advanced to include force fields, hovercraft and fiery costumes that don't harm the wearers. We can imagine a future where 12 kids must fight to the death!
My writer friend, Micki, is a former police captain who writes crime fiction. She knows what details need to be factual to maintain credibility. And that's because readers/viewers are knowledgeable and savvy. I’m writing a book set in an infamous and horrific prison in the 1950s. I’m constantly researching what could happen and what’s too far-fetched, even if the story is compelling.
Do you have any examples of stories/movies that you found completely unbelievable? Did that lessen your enjoyment?

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