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Jeruba's avatar

What, in your opinion, is the essence of fiction?

Asked by Jeruba (48978points) February 9th, 2010

The essence. The core reality, the basic principle. In a phrase, or at most a sentence. Is it vicarious experience, or is it something else?

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26 Answers

absalom's avatar

Probably narrative.

augustlan's avatar

The first thing that came to mind: A good story. I’m not sure that’s what you’re looking for though.

faye's avatar

Can I get lost in it and forget the time?

Dan_DeColumna's avatar

1375–1425; late ME < L fictiōn- (s. of fictiō) a shaping, hence a feigning,

To shape a new world, perhaps?

ninjacolin's avatar

i like vicarious experience. (it sounds better when you type it)

but my vote’s going toward the oxymoron: imagined reality.

Drgrafenbergmd's avatar

The essence of fiction derives from that thing which exists within our physical bodies, the psyche. If you look back on the fictions you have read you will realize that it wasn’t the author’s or the main character’s story, it was yours. Your mind and imagination that created the detail and filled in the details with imagination, the essence of the experience surely derives from your relatable human experience. In my opinion the basest parts of fiction don’t lay in the story which one may or may not relate to but how one relates it to themselves, in the subtlest of ways. Whether or not you notice pulling from the sights and experiences of your life to add detail to the stories, the wonderful fact remains that fiction and literature is an experience specific and exclusive to you and your perspectives. You fill in the imaginary blanks so readily and easily you forget that the experience is unique to you. This is the essence of fiction, creating a world in your mind which is patterned after your own experiences and assumptions.

ragingloli's avatar

Being not true?

ratboy's avatar

Truth disguised as a sequence of lies.

Scooby's avatar


Religion is the essence of fiction IMO the bible being the main literary works of imagination that we are familiar with today but religion goes further back in time to the essence of man……

BoBo1946's avatar

with the absence of friction, loving is not lovely!

Don_Liston's avatar

. . . is to remember that you are lying for fun and profit.

ucme's avatar

Glorious imagined imagery.

Don_Liston's avatar

Although Sir Walter Scott got credit for “inventing” the novel, it was probably because Cervantés and Homer et al were not around to argue the point. The novel has long been the dominate literary device for narrative and has added a lot to the canon of literature.

Fiction has always been the narrative form of novels although recently we have “non-fiction” novels. (Don’t ask, I can’t name one and if I have read one, I didn’t know it.)

Don_Liston's avatar

…and actually, truth IS the essence of fiction.

Scooby's avatar

Imagination….. :-/

Trillian's avatar

Webster says that it is ‘something invented by the imagination or feigned; specifically: an invented story. I would take it a stp further then, and say that a good fiction is an invented story that is both believable and captivating.
When my youngest daughter was three, I picked her up from the sitter one day. They were a couple in their early twenties who have strong family connections on both sides, so spend lots of time with their extended families. Apparently my daughter held a roomful of them in thrall telling them stories that she just made up as she went along. She had a sugar cigarette which she convincingly pretended to smoke as she talked. She crossed her legs and bounced a foot, flipped her hair and employed many things that I recognized as the storytellers art.
They were amazed at her vocabulary, lack of shyness and her ability to spin a yarn out of thin air. She has subsequently been put into the TAG as creatively gifted. My point being that the essence of fiction employs many subtle arts and stratagems depending on the medium employed to tell the fiction.
Too long?

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

BS with alittle truth thrown in for entertainment ;))

phoebusg's avatar

A projection, simulation of a world like our own – for the purpose of experimentation or experience.

Harp's avatar

I see it as a sympathetic resonance of minds.

If you stand two harps side by side and pluck a string on one of them, then quickly mute that string, you’ll discover that the other harp is still humming that note. It does this because it too has that string tuned to the same note. You could play an entire tune on one harp and the other harp would follow right along, colored by its own timbre, without the harpist ever laying a hand on it. In acoustic terms, this is called sympathetic resonance.

Minds do the same thing. There is enough commonality to our semantic mapping of the world of experience that we can be said to share many mental “strings”—images and associations and emotions tied to certain words. When a writer envisions a thing, she chooses words that resonate with that vision in her mind. When she sends these words out into the world, others may find that those words resonate in their minds as well, because they already possess similar images and associations and emotions attached to those words.

To thoroughly exhaust the metaphor, our minds are not all “tuned” according to the exact same scheme. Culture and the spectrum of life experience equip some minds with “notes” that may not have a ready counterpart in another’s mind. This is why some works translate poorly from one culture to another, and why we may find that certain works that meant little to us in youth acquire meaning when we grow older.

janbb's avatar

An empathetic connection to thoughts or experiences not your own.

Berserker's avatar

Oh damn haha. I’m tempted to say that fiction, whatever the entertainment format, is defined by how much the viewer/reader/player/whatever gets immersed in the work.
For something that’s completely imaginary, it needs to have a strong effect to be enjoyed and taken seriously, as it’s essentially a vision of the artist.

But I’m really not sure because fiction has many branches, and some might argue the differing concepts behind them…so, plot twists? XD

liminal's avatar

told and untold story, brought to light

mattbrowne's avatar

Fiction reveals truth that reality obscures. —Ralph Waldo Emerson

Jeruba's avatar

Interesting variety here. Thank you all for your thoughts.

carolinasummers's avatar

Way to go…you beat me to the RWE quote.

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