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What does realistic fiction mean?

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2009-09-21 21:05:23

Writing Realistic Fiction

The Goal of every Fiction Writer.

Because experiencing realistic fiction - is the desire of

every reader.

And writers write - to serve the desires of readers.

The combination of fiction and reality might seem, at

first glance, like a contradiction in terms; a dichotomy, even an

oxymoron however, as we will discuss on this page, the concept of

fiction that is real or life-like forms the very core of the

fiction reader's experience.

People read fiction for the emotional and intellectual

experience. And what readers read, and why they read it, influences

what we write and how we write it.

On this page we will discuss:

  1. What realistic fiction is
  2. Why it's desirable
  3. How to create it

1. What is realistic fiction?

How can "fiction" be "real? What does this term mean?

The word "fiction" in regards to literature -- generally means a

narration which is not-true, real or factual. And "Realistic" means

real, real-like or having the nature of "reality".

Therefore, "realistic fiction" means fiction that is realistic

or lifelike.

Fiction that is lifelike is fiction that seems real and


And that is exactly what readers are paying us

for. They are paying us for an experience -- a lifelike emotional

and intellectual experience.

2. Is realistic fiction desirable? And if so Why?

Creating realistic fiction should be the primary objective of

every fiction writer. Because experiencing realistic fiction is the

primary desire of every reader. And writers write, to serve the

needs and desires of readers.

But why fiction that only that seams real, why not the

real thing? Obviously it would be more "real" if the reader

actually experienced the events rather than just read about

them.True, but real experience is time-consuming, expensive and

often dangerous. Few of us have the time, money or stamina to

actually climb Everest or go lion hunting with Hemingway. But we

can experience this and more from the comfort of our arm chair

through the magic of real-to-life fiction.

In many regards, fiction in literature is able to approach

"truth" more closely than "non-fiction". If it's done right fiction

can be more real, more compelling, more frightening and emotionally

charged than the tepid "reality" that comprises the bulk of our

reader's lives.

The reasons for this are several.

Non-fiction by definition restricts itself to the facts. And

facts can be dry, dusty things, devoid of emotion.

Unless one is writing an autobiography, a great number of

"facts" must be left out of any "non-fiction" book. The most

important "facts" left out of non-fiction are "thoughts" and

"emotions". And these are very important components of the fiction

reader's experience.

In non-fiction the thoughts and emotions of the characters are

missing. We don't know what Lincoln or Churchill "thought" or

"felt" about the events they were involved in.

However, in a novel we can (through the imagination of the

author) hear not only what the protagonist thinks, but what any

number of lesser characters think and feel about the events of the


This "insight" delivers an additional layer of emotionally rich

meaning to the reader.

But accomplishing this magic places an additional

burden on the author.

The thoughts and feelings, as well as the actions of the

characters, must be "realistic" -- meaning, "lifelike" or true to


This requires a little technique...

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