I did an interview yesterday with a writer who said he never read fiction. He didn’t like fiction. He wanted to read true stories and obviously thought fiction a waste of time. And so he asked me why anyone would want to read fiction. What is the purpose of reading made up stuff? I said of course, entertainment. Reading is fun, and being caught up in a story is great. I told him fiction could sometimes be truer than non-fiction in the way it touched the reader. You can be the characters in a fiction book in a way that you can’t in a book about a real person. That person has already lived his story and you’re just along for the ride in the back seat watching the real events happen. But a fiction story – that’s different. You can jump right inside that character and live the story along with him or her. You’re not just riding along. You’re driving. So what’s your answer? Why do you like to read fiction? Or do you?
Here’s a couple of quotes I found in John Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations that give a viewpoint on fiction that I can go along with.
The first is by William Makepeace Thackeray from The English Humorists (1853).
“Fiction carries a greater amount of truth in solution than the volume which purports to be all true.”
The second is Ernest Hemingway quoted in Hemingway: The Writer as Artist by Carlos Baker.
“All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you; the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was. If you can get so that you can give that to people, then you are a writer.”
And so that’s what I can aspire to – writing a book that lets my readers own it in their hearts.
Have a great rest of the week.