Is the unreal really real?
Millions of new books and films are produced every year and they proudly proclaim that they are about things that never happened.
I don’t believe them.
I recently had my first book published. Called “Tread Carefully on the Sea” it’s classed as fiction. That’s because I made up the events. But did I? Does any author?
I’d say no. The events are all things that could have happened. Maybe they did happen. Certainly similar ones have happened or I would never have got the ideas. The events make up the story and therefore, if the events are based on real happenings, so is the story.
But I think that what mostly drives a successful book is the characters. And these are definitely not invented. They may have names that come out of the top of the author’s head, but any writer will tell you that he/she has based their protagonists and antagonists on people they have known. The writer has to do that – or there would be no sense of reality about the heroes and villains of the book.
Think about any office where you’ve worked or any school where you were educated, even your family. There were always the good guys and bad guys. The faces may have changed from time to time but the set of characters was constant. There was the enthusiast, the cautious, the reckless, the rule-follower, the rule-breaker, the comedian, the storyteller, the crawler, the schemer, the psychopath.
So I would contend that fiction is not fiction. It is a re-working of the real. It gives us entertainment and satisfaction because we recognise its situations and its movers and shakers. Even in sci-fi, where we are asked to step outside our known world, the people involved in the story will be doing recognisable things, saying things we would say or have heard said.
Fiction is our alternative universe but conversely it’s a place we know and have explored.
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