Fiction is a concept that is unique, because it is limited on the mind. When we think of fiction, we dream of the abstract: different worlds, things we wish we could have, or supernatural events. For the most part, however, none of these fantasies come to life – and we live our day to day lives with no change. For this reason, however, is why humans are compelled to fiction: because it allows us to imagine the absolute scenarios that are catered to us. Our own private manifestations of whatever we could possibly think of – there is absolutely no limit.
Since elementary school, we have been taught to think about the future. Assignments like writing about what you want to do when you grow up were all aspiration-based; fictional futures we were making up. The whole idea was to envision a perfect life that had everything going to plan. Again, this speaks to the redeeming factor of fiction, as it allows us to choose our own outcomes and fates no matter how bizarre or unrealistic.
As we moved from elementary school to middle school and high school, we transitioned from writing to reading. Fiction in literature – from Shakespeare’s countless plays to Homer’s epics – have not only presented us with entirely new worlds that have complex characters, settings, and plots, but also have brought to us stories of morals and values that have shaped who we are today. In reading fiction, and immersing ourselves in those worlds, we lower our guards and skepticisms and open ourselves in order to absorb information that we definitely do not see in day-to-day life. This also explains how a fictional novel can play a big role in persuading and affecting us personally, compared to that of nonfiction. In fiction we have to be responsive to new ideas in order to fully soak in everything going on. On the other hand, nonfiction book may have to contend with our pre-existing values and ideals. Overall, this explains another reason why fiction is compelling: we’re malleable to the stories they deliver, continually drawing not only us but our open minds.
With the natural appeal fiction has on our lives, its real-world effects are not to be understated. As it exposes us to new realities that we have never seen before, it also enhances our perceptions of other people. Likewise, its endings, be it idealistic or tragic, can make us optimistic or have a cathartic effect on us respectively; allowing us to gain new views on the situations we may encounter in daily life. While you may say that this all boils down to believing in lies, fiction nonetheless allows us to see more in the world than we would otherwise. We gain a vision of our ideal world; a motivation to accomplish and strive for these ideal worlds; and ultimately, a reason to tell stories, continuing the cycle.
Graphics: Maraea Garcia