The question, “why fiction?” has very much been on my mind lately, and it’s one of these things that, again, is so big, and so obvious that most people just don’t think about it. It seems obvious to people that human beings love stories.
Posts Tagged: stories
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From the epic poems of old to postmodernist novels, humans have always told stories.
For the Millions, Annie Abrams looks at how Facebook affects our storytelling, applying narrative/literary insights from folks like J. M. Coetzee and Ralph Waldo Emerson. A preview:
What happens, though, to the identities we take on in moments of freedom from the sort of temporality Facebook advocates — the first two weeks of college; a short affair with someone regrettable while traveling; isolated months spent thinking about a dissertation?
I wonder if that is the case for many of us. Perhaps, in the widespread longing for likable characters, there is this: a desire, through fiction, for contact with what we’ve armored ourselves against in the rest of our lives, a desire to be reminded that it’s possible to open our eyes, to see, to recognize our solitude — and at the same time to not be entirely alone.
Tim O’Brien has a really brilliant article in The Atlantic in which he argues that the biggest problem with “unsuccessful stories” is, to put it quite simply, that “they are boring.” I couldn’t agree more.
O’Brien worries about the focus in writing workshops on believability and “verisimilitude.” For him, believability isn’t usually the problem. “The failure,” he says, “almost always, is one of imagination.”
Here’s a few of his ideas on what authors should strive for, some of which seem obvious, but all of which hearken back to some long lost idea of “storytelling” that focuses on keeping people’s attention and doing something with it:
“(I)nformational detail must function actively within the dynamic of a story.”
“(A) well-imagined story is organized around extraordinary human behaviors and unexpected and startling events, which help illuminate the commonplace and the ordinary.”
“Inventing a nifty, extraordinary set of behaviors for our characters is not enough....more