Thursday, April 21, 2016

Why Does Fiction Matter?



There are some strange folks out there who say they don’t like fiction. 

Or rather, they perhaps just don’t understand its purpose.

Many people say they never read fiction because it’s not TRUE, so what’s the point?

To any budding novelist this attitude is as heinous as it is incomprehensible. 

Unfortunately it is also surprisingly common.

My Dad, for one, thinks that reading novels is just too hard so he’s never bothered with them.

When I asked him to read one of my books once he said, “Son, just tell me what happens.” 

One of his favorite lines about books is, “If it’s any good, they’ll make a movie out of it.”

How many times have you heard this?

Often I’m sure - not least because it’s true!

The implication here is obvious. 

To non-readers, it’s not the writing that’s important. 

It’s the story.

While great writing might profoundly impress writers like you and me, most people just want the message, rather than the medium.

I would say people like stories for four main reasons:

Entertainment

Enlightenment

Validation and,

To gain hope & salvation

These reasons have been the ‘point’ of telling and listening to stories since the beginning of time.

As a species, we need them.

They divert our attention from the mundane and take us out of ourselves for a while.

They can show us things we didn’t know about ourselves and others. 

We may gain valuable new perspectives to help us to better understand our neighbors, foreigners, even our enemies.

We need stories to make us feel better about ourselves--as human beings, as well as personalities. 

That’s why we like to identify with heroes and warriors--indeed, anyone who can show us how to overcome obstacles.

We need stories to help us make sense of life and the world around us.

In real life, there are no beginnings and endings, just infinite sequences.

You know how it is. 

You listen to the news. 

Everything is a segment, a teaser, a sample of every day life. 

Nothing makes sense because there’s no structure.

Without the confines that fiction offers us, we are drowning in a bewildering sea of actions and feelings and urges with no meaning.

And no end in sight.

Stories ‘frame’ real life into manageable chunks that have tangibility, involvement and purpose, whether for us individually or as a race.

Surely that’s what we were placed on this earth to do!

To make sense of who we are and why we are here.

And THAT'S why fiction matters!

Keep writing!


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