Why Does Fiction Matter?

Saturn moon with a mountain background

Written by Frankie Cameron

Why does fiction matter? There are some strange folks out there who don’t like fiction. Or rather, they don’t understand the purpose of stories that aren’t true. In this post, we will explore why reading fiction matters.

Merriam-Webster defines fiction as something invented by the imagination or feigned specifically: an invented story.

So… fiction is a story.

The Value of Fiction

While everyone can agree that reading is an important part of developing a successful life, not everyone can agree on the value of fiction.

Some celebrities like Oprah and Reese Witherspoon have their own book clubs, while others like Barack Obama, Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk share their reading lists.

Still others like Kanye West and Meghan Trainor say they never read fiction because it isn’t true, so there is no point.

5 Reasons People Don’t Read

The following is a list of why people don’t read:

  1. Lack of time
  2. Reading is too much work
  3. I don’t see the point of reading
  4. I don’t know what to read
  5. Watching the movie is quicker

You can read more here.

I’ll Wait for the Movie

To any writer, this attitude that people don’t like to read is baffling. Unfortunately, it is also common. How many times have you heard the phrase ‘If it’s any good, they’ll make a movie out of it’?

The implication here is obvious; it’s not the writing that’s important. It’s the story. While great writing might profoundly impress you or me, most people just want the message, rather than the medium.

A map of Westeros and and a science fiction photo

Created in Canva.

Why Fiction Matters?

People like stories for many reasons:

1. Different World

Fiction matters because it helps us enter a different world. It helps us imagine, and possibly understand, people to a greater extent. The power of fiction lies in its ability to make the world a more plausible place to live.

Fiction is an amazing medium for conveying important things to readers. It condenses events, juxtaposes them, and paints them with clarity.

2. Enlightenment

Stories can explain the complexities of relationships, wars, and even allow the exploration of different cultures and peoples. Fiction books can show us things we didn’t know about ourselves and others. We may gain valuable new perspectives to help us better understand our neighbours, foreigners, and even our enemies.

Unlike any other form of communication, fiction takes the reader into another character’s mind. Through their perspectives, they define the world. This allows them to see it in new ways and gain new insights.

3. Exploration

Fiction also allows the reader to experience a different culture and lifestyle. They can become an explorer, a scientist, an artist, or an orphan cabin boy. They can also experience the emotions of a person they may not have otherwise experienced.

The power of fiction lies in the ability to create believable characters who are more dramatic and interesting than real people. A talented writer can help a reader understand their own perspective.

4. Entertainment

Books divert our attention from the mundane and take us out of ourselves for a while. They allow us to get lost in the story and forget about reality for a while.

5. Validation

Finally, we need stories to help us make sense of life and the world. As a species, 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.

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

Final Thoughts

Fiction is an amazing way to send a message to readers, make a social statement or purely entertain. Why does fiction matter to you? Let me know in the comments.


Until next time

Feature photo by Reimund Bertrams from Pixabay.

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