You know what very rarely happens in stories? People going to the toilet. People playing games on their phones. People getting a ‘sniffle’. We see in books, comics and film, when all the explosions are going off or the spaceships take-off everyone always seem to be getting stuck in and they happily overlook the mundane. Those little tasks we all do on a daily basis, that everyone shares in what they do but are so easy to gloss over.
When you watch soap operas, these are probably the clearest example of the ‘amazing’ happening far more frequently than would statistically be likely. Yes they are, in the most part, normal incidents but they shouldn’t be happening to the same people with the same kind of regularity. You could look at the characters in all kinds of shows and think that even Jerry Springer would think their life stories were too far fetched.
But in the real world, there are a great deal more segments of nothing. Just the usual day to day. How often do you get home from a ‘normal’ day at work to eat a ‘normal’ meal and then watch TV before going to bed? We all do it all the time but to have all of this reviewed in stark detail is boring. We all know the quiet bits every day, it’s the out of the ordinary that gives the narrative flavour.
In every story, the characters all have the same basic functions and needs as we do but none of us want to see that. We want to see all of the explosions and not the waiting in line. The feast of Bilbo and the dwarves in The Hobbit is an important element within, certainly, what the film was doing so eating and then washing up was needed. The party for Bilbo in The Lord of the Rings is needed but none of us want to see that party get cleared away the day after. The story had moved away so the mundane was mundane again.
We sometimes see characters doing the normal things once just to show that they do still happen but then the roller coaster gets underway and we don’t have refer to that again, content that these things were still taking place but we could just take it as read.
If you miss the normal stuff, instead just having monsters and battles, it’s just too ‘out-there’ so just seems unreal. The reader could lose the grip on what was going on.
In the Circle books I’m writing, I’m trying to make the magical action take place in locations I know are real as much as I can. There will always be the made up stuff but reality will always be there. It’s a good thing.
Maybe I’ll write a story about what happens on the other side of the coin for a well known story much like they did in Buffy the Vampire Slayer with the season three episode The Zeppo and just revel in the fact that the normal can be compelling as well.