These essays do not address anyone’s actual writing. My specialty is providing information. Occasionally I have been asked if something is “correct” or “realistic.” Sometimes this is easy to answer, sometimes it is not.

There are several levels of realism. First, there is REAL reality. Then there is what might be called “television reality” (which includes TOD.) Finally there is the reality that a writer creates on their own.

The real reality of the military and Vietnam is both boring and not very PC. It was a 99.99% male organization, planted in the midst of a hostile, Third World country, engaged in fighting a no-quarter war.

Then there is the level which most fan-fic writers work at and the level TOD addressed, which I call “television reality.” This is the level where none of the main characters get killed or seriously injured, no one curses, and all reactions are PC.

Now, what is actually “reality” at this level? And where do you depart from it? I can’t tell you this in every case. You are 21st Century writers writing for a modern audience. Yet some minimum concessions to the period need to be made. This is my concept of what “reality” means on this level. And I will add some notes on how this was handled on TOD.

No one, of course, is obliged to follow my suggestions. A lot of movies certainly didn’t, (The Siege of Firebase Gloria, for example.) But now you have the additional burden of making this “alternate Vietnam” seem believable.


Next: The Military Caste System


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