|“Art is a lie that makes us realize the truth.” -Picasso|
I just spent two hours trying to find the right one-way street in downtown L.A. for the swing dancing club my characters discover. It needed to be busy with lots of big buildings around, a convenience store or gas station around the corner, and... well, I really wanted the building to have a mustard yellow door.
LOL. Why did I want to find a real place like this when I could have just made one up?
I have no idea. Actually, I do. It has something to do with Forks.
I came to the conclusion at about 3 o' clock this morning that it doesn't matter as much as I thought it did at 1:00am. Sure, some degree of realism is cool because it makes the reader feel like they could really be there. Like the cranky train guy in Harry Potter when Harry's like, "Where's platform nine and three quarters?" You gotta have a cranky train guy.
I think sleep deprivation may have had something to do with my decision to spend so much time on something so trivial, but it's also that I'm hearing all the time that we should make things as real as possible, when, really, it's probably safer for everyone involved if we make more things up.
After all, authors have been sued for making a real place of business the scene of a fictional murder. And who knows if whatever dance club I eventually might have found (in another five hours of research) even wanted to host my underage characters for a night of raucous swing-dancing and spirit-whisperering. (It's complicated.)
So maybe realism is a bit overrated. Monet was pretty popular. Some people even like Picasso. And awesome writers like Dan Brown and Vince Flynn always lose me when they start giving me a Google-esque lesson on stealth plane engine components or White House floor plans. Just saying.
What details do you think an author really should verify in a fictional tale? And what things are we better off just dreaming?
(random bold-type brought to you by 3 in the morning)