On “realistic fiction”

by look i have opinions

I’ve been resisting the urge to add a “realistic fiction” tag, because the term seems to be fraught with historical baggage and stupidity. Realism seems to mean at least two unrelated things:

  1. Not speculative. That is, the world of the story is essentially supposed to be like the real world; the events of the plot are plausible in the real world.
  2. Straightforward, conventional, in the manner of pre-modernist realism. Does not question what reality is, or how best to represent it. Not written using the box model. Not metafictional or formally outlandish in any way. (Does not include psychological realism, either. Like how dwarf planets aren’t planets.*)

I hereby adopt this awkward two-part definition for future use. If necessary, I’ll divide it into two separate tags, I guess, if I feel like it.

*Edit: Definitely does not include magic realism. Actually, magic realism is a double strike: it includes speculative elements, and it includes them in a way that leaves the reader to figure out how they represent reality.