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Ton Lew Lepsnaci
04-06-2010, 12:15 AM
Hi,

there was a thread recently on a related topic, now closed. It got me thinking about why fiction is so attractive, while rationally/arguably it makes no sense to create non-existing things/worlds. Yet many love to do it and many love to read/view it.

This is an attempt to look at the topic from a different angle.

What are your excuses/reasons for producing something out of the air? It's fun of course, but is it fun for a reason?

Making things up is part of human nature. If we make things up, we can begin to understand "the new". Something we haven't met before, something possibly dangerous or puzzling. If we can imagine how this new/dangerous thing could possibly behave or watch it in action and imagine some rules it might follow, then we are making things up to help us survive or understand the world. Even if we can't actually see the thing in action, we could hear it move around and try to imagine what it's like, again, making things up to understand something new.

Could it be fiction is written as part of that deeply rooted need to make things up, where we can let that part of ourselves roam completely free (to the extreme in fiction writing, movies and art in general)?

Of course, logic/rigorous thinking enters into it to as well. So we have hardcore SF at one end of the spectrum and fantasy at the other. Creativity and rigorous thinking (logic) go hand in hand, yet we often view them as conflicting.

Would you go along with this rationalizing of fiction? It may explain why it is fun to write it. And what can we get out of the ultimate product as a reader/viewer? A new view on reality through oddly tinted glasses?

scarletpeaches
04-06-2010, 12:19 AM
I have a God complex. Look! I am become the creator of worlds.

DeleyanLee
04-06-2010, 12:20 AM
Welcome to AW!


What are your excuses/reasons for producing something out of the air?

I don't feel a need for either an excuse or a reason to do it. It's just something I do, like using my senses, sustaining life, looking for love, etc. I cannot remember a time when I didn't do it nor can I picture a time when I won't. Something that is part of my being needs no excuse or reason, IMHO. It's how I was made.

Now, when there were times I was/am called upon to justify my time and energy in writing by others who don't understand it, it's usually easy enough to pick out something they enjoy (for reasons unfanthomable to me) and spend tons of time and energy on it. I always said that when they can give me a reason/excuse for their action, I'd give them mine. So far, no one's got back to me on that topic. ;)

Probably not the philosophical discussion you were looking for, but I don't do philosophy. Sorry if this is a derail.

Ton Lew Lepsnaci
04-06-2010, 12:22 AM
Interesting, a deep need to control our environment may be part of it too :)
(response to the God motivation)

Shadow_Ferret
04-06-2010, 12:22 AM
Writing is just more fun than digging a ditch for a living.

Ton Lew Lepsnaci
04-06-2010, 12:25 AM
Welcome to AW!



I don't feel a need for either an excuse or a reason to do it. It's just something I do, like using my senses, sustaining life, looking for love, etc. ---
Probably not the philosophical discussion you were looking for, but I don't do philosophy. Sorry if this is a derail.

No derail, I don't really need a reason to do it either, but I am still curious as to the why. I find it as fun to understand things as to make them up, and as my post shows, think of them as part of the same coin.

C.M.C.
04-06-2010, 12:28 AM
For me, I write things that don't exist because I don't have anything that does exist to write about that I find sufficiently interesting. I don't find the appeal in retelling something that actually happened, and I don't think it fits my idea of what writing should be.

Ton Lew Lepsnaci
04-06-2010, 12:48 AM
For me, I write things that don't exist because I don't have anything that does exist to write about that I find sufficiently interesting. I don't find the appeal in retelling something that actually happened, and I don't think it fits my idea of what writing should be.

Carl Sagan made a point once (in another context, reacting to interest in the paranormal) that reality has a lot of incredible things to offer. I wouldn't go along with writing off reality as a good source for fiction because if would lack interest. But I have of course nothing against making up things out of the blue or writing fiction because it happens to be of interest to the author.

I just don't think "interest" is a sufficient explanation for writing fiction in general. Plenty of reality out there is fascinating/interesting as well.

One could argue that from the point of view of the reader, "pure" fiction does not bring anything new as it can't be applied in "real" life. Of course that's not true either as it can teach about relations, alternate views etc. But it could be argued that a mix of both could bring more. This is the readers' POV of course.

Ton Lew Lepsnaci
04-06-2010, 01:10 AM
Writing is just more fun than digging a ditch for a living.

It earns a living, but so do a number of other interesting jobs, then why that one? It's more fun, but why :)

blacbird
04-06-2010, 01:11 AM
Something about the overall tone of this thread makes me think you are conflating "fact" with "truth". They are not synonymous. Fiction has been a major part of the human cultural fabric since the first cave clan sat around the fire with an elder trying to explain the universe to the children. The power of those stories rested on the expression of "truth" in a symbolic way that would be memorable, entertaining and instructive.

Nothing has changed.

caw

Ton Lew Lepsnaci
04-06-2010, 01:40 AM
Something about the overall tone of this thread makes me think you are conflating "fact" with "truth". They are not synonymous. Fiction has been a major part of the human cultural fabric since the first cave clan sat around the fire with an elder trying to explain the universe to the children. The power of those stories rested on the expression of "truth" in a symbolic way that would be memorable, entertaining and instructive.

Nothing has changed.

caw

Fiction has been used to convey a notion of truth from age old. But a lot of current day fiction is not created directly out of that desire. I'd agree that fiction tends to be most captivating when it achieves to convey truths.

I just wonder whether the desire to create fiction (whether it aims to convey truth or not) might have a deeper root; namely the capacity to create fictitious models of the world around us so we can get to new truths and the desire to use that capacity, whether it leads to new truths or not.

But as Scarlet Peaches pointed out, there are other motivations too.

I don't really get your point of truth and facts in this context. Truth is the quality of being in accord with fact or reality. But we're heading into semantics...

the addster
04-06-2010, 01:41 AM
You know, I just think, "Wouldn't it be funny if......" and tell the story. I'm basically just bullshitting while paying attention to grammar. I don't think it needs to be rationalized, if any universal truths come through, or any lessons are learned, it's the fault of the reader.

I have no interest in claiming to trying to pass along any wisdom, or worse morality and/or understanding.

Gillhoughly
04-06-2010, 01:44 AM
Reality makes no sense.

Fiction does.

Writing it pays, allowing me to work at home and stay as much out of the way of reality as possible.

Ton Lew Lepsnaci
04-06-2010, 01:46 AM
Reality makes no sense.

Fiction does.

Writing it pays, allowing me to work at home and stay as much out of the way of reality as possible.

It's like a mini story, wrapping so much truth in it, it cracked me up, thanks.

SPMiller
04-06-2010, 03:24 AM
I wrote this once, and I think I still believe it: Fiction is the affirmation of divine influence in profluent events. In other words, everything happens for a reason. That's why people read, but it's not why I write.

I write speculative fiction (primarily) because I like to study human behavior outside the constraints of consensus reality.

shaldna
04-06-2010, 05:13 AM
What are your excuses/reasons for producing something out of the air? It's fun of course, but is it fun for a reason?


I wasn't aware that I needed a reason. But, if pressed I wil admit that I am Irish and come from a community that has a strong history of vocal story telling.


And I get paid to tell lies. Which is pretty awesome. (And I write mostly acedemia)

semilargeintestine
04-06-2010, 05:41 AM
Carl Sagan made a point once (in another context, reacting to interest in the paranormal) that reality has a lot of incredible things to offer. I wouldn't go along with writing off reality as a good source for fiction because if would lack interest. But I have of course nothing against making up things out of the blue or writing fiction because it happens to be of interest to the author.


I know you're not saying the classic "truth is stranger than fiction," but your post reminded me of this:

http://i71.photobucket.com/albums/i159/drmg01/20091128.gif

wrangler
04-06-2010, 06:24 AM
Hi,

there was a thread recently on a related topic, now closed. It got me thinking about why fiction is so attractive, while rationally/arguably it makes no sense to create non-existing things/worlds. Yet many love to do it and many love to read/view it.

This is an attempt to look at the topic from a different angle.

What are your excuses/reasons for producing something out of the air? It's fun of course, but is it fun for a reason?

Making things up is part of human nature. If we make things up, we can begin to understand "the new". Something we haven't met before, something possibly dangerous or puzzling. If we can imagine how this new/dangerous thing could possibly behave or watch it in action and imagine some rules it might follow, then we are making things up to help us survive or understand the world. Even if we can't actually see the thing in action, we could hear it move around and try to imagine what it's like, again, making things up to understand something new.

Could it be fiction is written as part of that deeply rooted need to make things up, where we can let that part of ourselves roam completely free (to the extreme in fiction writing, movies and art in general)?

Of course, logic/rigorous thinking enters into it to as well. So we have hardcore SF at one end of the spectrum and fantasy at the other. Creativity and rigorous thinking (logic) go hand in hand, yet we often view them as conflicting.

Would you go along with this rationalizing of fiction? It may explain why it is fun to write it. And what can we get out of the ultimate product as a reader/viewer? A new view on reality through oddly tinted glasses? i write fiction because I can control what happens in the stories. Reality is something I have managed to stay away from since i was a wee lass. i am a person who cannot stomach the state of the world, and have always had trouble believing that everyone was "entitled" to openly expressing his/her opinions.

kuwisdelu
04-06-2010, 06:44 AM
Fiction explores reality better than reality itself allows.

ishtar'sgate
04-06-2010, 09:36 AM
Hi,



What are your excuses/reasons for producing something out of the air? It's fun of course, but is it fun for a reason?



Reading a good book allows me a break from reality, a space of time when I don't have to consider my own responsibilities and problems. I write for the same reason. Writing relaxes me in a way nothing else does and I hope what I write entertains readers so they can take a break from their own lives too. We all need a little leisure time for the mind and both reading and writing does it for me.

Ton Lew Lepsnaci
04-06-2010, 12:04 PM
I know you're not saying the classic "truth is stranger than fiction," but your post reminded me of this:

http://i71.photobucket.com/albums/i159/drmg01/20091128.gif

My signature agrees, but not by much :)

Ton Lew Lepsnaci
04-06-2010, 12:09 PM
Thanks everyone for sharing all of this.

One comment: in retrospect I would remove the word "excuses" in the first message. It's not meant to criticize, only to provoke thought on why we do what we do.

Thanks again, it seems some core reasons are really emerging from this.
Wonder if there are more out there.

brokenfingers
04-06-2010, 12:36 PM
Why is fiction so attractive, while rationally/arguably it makes no sense to create non-existing things/worlds? Yet many love to do it and many love to read/view it.

I think writing is just an outlet for other needs. I think humans have an inherent need to tell stories, but I think the reason behind that is that we all have, in varying degrees, a deep need to share something of ourselves.

We all feel a need to share our thoughts, our feelings, our experiences, and our worldview. We use fiction as a means to do this. We each have worlds, characters, ideas, situations, thoughts Ė profound, mundane and silly, that we, for some reason, need to express and share.

As writers, we do this through our stories. (But there other mediums humans do this with also.)

I think weíre compelled to let these things free from within ourselves, and eventually, to share them with others.

Of course, I donít know the answers, but I imagine sometimes, that weíre like a person sitting alone outside in the dark, looking up and staring at all the stars in the night sky. Each isolated, yet, oddly enough, seemingly powerful. Potent. Almost magical.

Itís odd the feeling one gets when one looks at that whole.

We look at them and we think:

I exist. I have experiences, thoughts, feelings. I am something. I am not a guttering candle, to die in the night, my flame lost as if it never existed.

I have something to share with the universe. A part of me. No matter how well hidden it is in the medium I choose: art, writing, jokes, dance, sports Ė it is still an expression of myself, a culmination or an aspect, of who I am and my place in this universe.

I give this to you.

I think thatís why we do it.

So, yeah, thatís my short answer. :D

Phaeal
04-06-2010, 04:24 PM
Reality makes no sense.

Fiction does.


Yes. And pithiness is always appreciated. :)

brokenfingers
04-06-2010, 05:01 PM
Yes. And pithiness is always appreciated. :)Exactly. My first reply was gonna be:

Cuz.

scarletpeaches
04-06-2010, 05:03 PM
Or as I said to a friend who just didn't 'get it': "Something exists that wasn't here before I came."

DeleyanLee
04-06-2010, 05:09 PM
Fiction explores reality better than reality itself allows.

And, more importantly, fiction allows people to look at the ugly side of themselves and their culture without consciously taking offense and, thus, refusing to see the truth in the story.

wrangler
04-06-2010, 05:50 PM
And, more importantly, fiction allows people to look at the ugly side of themselves and their culture without consciously taking offense and, thus, refusing to see the truth in the story.


which is really quite sad. for ages people sat around fires in circles listening to stories in order to "see" themselves.

Ton Lew Lepsnaci
04-10-2010, 09:53 PM
Perhaps fiction also allows young adults/adults to receive the gift of children - being able to consider a new situation without bias, like a blank slate - presented through a packaging that takes people away from the familiar.

Jamesaritchie
04-12-2010, 12:53 AM
Money, pure and simple. I do enjoy writing, but not enough to ever write for free.

sunandshadow
04-12-2010, 01:01 AM
It's not by any means the only reason that I write, but I know that one of the reasons I'm drawn to write romances is that I feel pained by the lack of romance in my own life. It would be easy to imagine writing a piece of fiction as being like casting a magic spell - that writing about a character finding love might somehow magically bring love into my own life. I don't actually believe it works that way, but it's a tempting thought.

Bushrat
04-12-2010, 01:15 AM
I feel just the other way, actually. I find non-fiction way more interesting both to write and to read - real life to me beats most fictional accounts.
Maybe my imagination just really sucks - that's possible too :tongue

Ton Lew Lepsnaci
04-12-2010, 01:26 AM
I feel just the other way, actually. I find non-fiction way more interesting both to write and to read - real life to me beats most fictional accounts.
Maybe my imagination just really sucks - that's possible too :tongue

Hi Bushrat,

I'm curious, what kind of non fiction do you write?
I'd agree reality beats fiction in many cases, but like to blend both.

Libbie
04-12-2010, 01:40 AM
I don't have a profound reason for doing it. I just like to write.

Bushrat
04-12-2010, 02:19 AM
Hi Bushrat,

I'm curious, what kind of non fiction do you write?
I'd agree reality beats fiction in many cases, but like to blend both.

Mostly outdoorsy stuff - about people living out in the bush, kayaking and hiking trips in far-flung places, wildlife stories. There are a lot of eccentric and weird people up here (the Yukon) and the stuff they've done is way cooler than anything I could ever dream up...

Ton Lew Lepsnaci
04-12-2010, 10:38 AM
Money, pure and simple. I do enjoy writing, but not enough to ever write for free.

Hi James, this is digressing from the thread a bit, but read your blog on practice. Excellent advice.

Ruv Draba
04-12-2010, 04:45 PM
With true stories you have to find the tales that explore the questions you want to explore. With fiction you can craft tales to explore exactly what you want.