Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Finding Truth in Fiction

The truth can be stranger than fiction. Consider this cliche phrase for a moment. We read and write fiction based on the various truths of our lives or the lives of others. Fiction, that delivered through all manner of storytelling genres--film, writing, plays--offers us a peek through someone else's window, into another realm of possibility.

A writing colleague of mine recently attended a workshop that explored how fiction teaches us about important social cues. There is shared experience in narrative. It was said that children perform better at social tasks when they read fiction. If we think about the early reading we did on the knees of our parents, this makes sense because we've been exposed to all kinds of moral lessons and values through the fiction in children's picture books.

I've been told by people who only read non-fiction, that fiction is escapist entertainment. I beg to differ as many important life lessons can be potentially transmitted through various forms of storytelling. It's about the message, not the medium. There is truth in fiction, even strange fiction. It may not be our truth, but we can and and do learn from it.

What important life lessons or truths have you learned through fiction, as either a viewer, reader or writer?

4 comments:

  1. Writing had taught me more about courage than any motivation speaker could. Being confronted to yourself, your limitations, your values and a blank page is like going hiking on Mars. The Greater Unknown. Where are you ready to go? Where do you NEED to go to put that crazy good idea of yours on paper?

    I have read tons of novel (a far up three digits number), have got a master degree in Comparative Literature and a decent pop culture knowledge, but nothing compares to writing. It's all a game compared to the task of FINDING the words.

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  2. Hello Ben! Thanks for stopping by. I like how you explain the writing process as a learning adventure into the unknown. Indeed it strikes me that way too. We truly confront ourselves through the searching that goes into getting those ideas, good or bad, on paper! And it makes us braver especially when we put ourselves out to an audience.

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  3. I really like the graphic you've made explaining the twisted and fragile alchemy of writing. I can tell you're not one of these : "but-I was-told-I-had-great-writing-skills" type of people.

    Writing is the hardest thing I have ever done.

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  4. Oh, I've been told that by lots of people. The trick as a writer is to never let your ego overshadow the message you want to convey. Every time I put pen to paper I feel as though I'm starting from scratch.

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