Author Topic: What is fiction?  (Read 708 times)

Offline Baruch (OP)

What is fiction?
« on: September 24, 2017, 11:05:14 PM »
A quote from a book by Ursula Le Guin"

"Fiction writers, at least in their braver moments, do desire the truth: to know it, speak it, serve it. But they go about it in a peculiar and devious way, which consists in inventing persons, places, and events which never did and never will exist or occur, and telling about these fictions in detail and at length and with a great deal of emotion, and then when they are done writing down this pack of lies, they say, There! That’s the truth!"

Anyway the people here are still commentary on Plato vs Homer.
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Offline Cavebear

Re: What is fiction?
« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2017, 04:26:10 AM »
A quote from a book by Ursula Le Guin"

"Fiction writers, at least in their braver moments, do desire the truth: to know it, speak it, serve it. But they go about it in a peculiar and devious way, which consists in inventing persons, places, and events which never did and never will exist or occur, and telling about these fictions in detail and at length and with a great deal of emotion, and then when they are done writing down this pack of lies, they say, There! That’s the truth!"

Anyway the people here are still commentary on Plato vs Homer.

Admiring Le Guin, I'll go for Homer for the story, and laugh at Plato for the illogic.
Atheist born, atheist bred.  And when I die, atheist dead!  b 1950

Offline Sal1981

Re: What is fiction?
« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2017, 05:51:09 AM »
I'm rather convinced that fiction writers are well aware of their work being made up as they go along. I don't understand why anyone would think otherwise.
"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool" --- Richard P. Feynman

Offline Cavebear

Re: What is fiction?
« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2017, 06:47:37 AM »
I'm rather convinced that fiction writers are well aware of their work being made up as they go along. I don't understand why anyone would think otherwise.

You may not understand writers, then.  They get into a world of their own.  I'm sure you know the phrase "willing suspension of disbelief", but you may not understand how deeply writers get into that. 

I've written a few dozen short stories.  A few published in those cheap self-published group anthologies.   Yeah, whoopee... But when I get an idea started, I am completed involved in it.  The story goes places I never expected when I started. 

The logic of the beginning brings you where you didn't expect.  I started one short story about a cave shaman woman and her accolytes from 20KYA, and to my surprise, I killed her in favor of one acolyte.  I'm not joking; I was surprised myself.  The rest of the story got better because that one acolyte was more interesting AND it was important that the older shaman died...

And I had no idea of that when I started the story!
Atheist born, atheist bred.  And when I die, atheist dead!  b 1950

Offline Baruch (OP)

Re: What is fiction?
« Reply #4 on: September 28, 2017, 07:25:46 PM »
You may not understand writers, then.  They get into a world of their own.  I'm sure you know the phrase "willing suspension of disbelief", but you may not understand how deeply writers get into that. 

I've written a few dozen short stories.  A few published in those cheap self-published group anthologies.   Yeah, whoopee... But when I get an idea started, I am completed involved in it.  The story goes places I never expected when I started. 

The logic of the beginning brings you where you didn't expect.  I started one short story about a cave shaman woman and her accolytes from 20KYA, and to my surprise, I killed her in favor of one acolyte.  I'm not joking; I was surprised myself.  The rest of the story got better because that one acolyte was more interesting AND it was important that the older shaman died...

And I had no idea of that when I started the story!

That is what human life is, you are living out your own fiction, but you don't know what happens on the next page.
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Offline aitm

Re: What is fiction?
« Reply #5 on: September 28, 2017, 07:44:30 PM »
I think it should be a law, yes a law, that everyone must write a book. I spent years on mine and never had it published, but it was a tremendous learning experience in all kinds of stuff.

You see, nearly 25 years ago, long before Hitchens and Harris or Dawkins I thought I would write a book on musings on being an atheist. The title? "Atheist in the Midst" ...get it? aitm?  anyhoo....

I wrote short "essays" on topics from practically everything and how I, being an atheist, saw the matter without the aid of supernatural agents. The one thing I didn't count on when I started was my own response when reading some of my thoughts and thinking, "am I sure that is the real history before I spout off on it?" And so I delved into all kinds of study finding out if the history I learned was really the real history, or if indeed, homosexuality, as I was convinced, was a naturally recurring percentile and thus not "abnormal" but merely a trait of the species.

Some of the great reads:
Most any of Daniel Boorstin's books, fabulous reading. The discoverers, The creators, the seekers
The Little Brown book anecdotes, The Great Thoughts, The entire Funk and Wagnal Encyclopedia', American Myth and Legends, The Puritans, so many things I started to spout off on and thought, "lets go look at that again".

I would recommend it for everyone.

A humans desire to live is exceeded only by their willingness to die for another. Even god cannot equal this magnificent sacrifice. No god has the right to judge them.-first tenant of the Panotheust

Re: What is fiction?
« Reply #6 on: September 28, 2017, 07:50:02 PM »
That is what human life is, you are living out your own fiction, but you don't know what happens on the next page.
I look back on my life and if I stop the film and look at one particular cell, I realize I had no idea of what would happen next; I did have an idea of what I wanted to happen, but what I wanted and what did happen hardly ever exactly matched.  I still plan, but with the realization that shit happens (and non-shit too!) and wait to see whatever is presented.
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent,
Is he able but not willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able or willing?
Then why call him god?

Offline Baruch (OP)

Re: What is fiction?
« Reply #7 on: September 28, 2017, 07:58:37 PM »
I look back on my life and if I stop the film and look at one particular cell, I realize I had no idea of what would happen next; I did have an idea of what I wanted to happen, but what I wanted and what did happen hardly ever exactly matched.  I still plan, but with the realization that shit happens (and non-shit too!) and wait to see whatever is presented.

It is necessary to plan, but also necessary to be an opportunist when things don't work out as planned.
שלום

Offline trdsf

Re: What is fiction?
« Reply #8 on: September 28, 2017, 09:44:14 PM »
You may not understand writers, then.  They get into a world of their own.  I'm sure you know the phrase "willing suspension of disbelief", but you may not understand how deeply writers get into that. 

I've written a few dozen short stories.  A few published in those cheap self-published group anthologies.   Yeah, whoopee... But when I get an idea started, I am completed involved in it.  The story goes places I never expected when I started. 

The logic of the beginning brings you where you didn't expect.  I started one short story about a cave shaman woman and her accolytes from 20KYA, and to my surprise, I killed her in favor of one acolyte.  I'm not joking; I was surprised myself.  The rest of the story got better because that one acolyte was more interesting AND it was important that the older shaman died...

And I had no idea of that when I started the story!
Those are the best stories, the ones that come alive on their own terms while you're typing them.  On my best days, I slip into something approximating a trance and have to go back in an hour or two and read what I wrote, because the process was so automatic I had no conscious awareness of it.  Alas, I don't get that as often as I would like.
"It's hard to be religious when certain people are never incinerated by bolts of lightning." -- Calvin and Hobbes
"I thought I committed regicide today, but I committed deicide!" -- Sadie Doyle, Beyond Belief

Re: What is fiction?
« Reply #9 on: September 28, 2017, 10:18:54 PM »
I've written a few dozen short stories.  A few published in those cheap self-published group anthologies.   Yeah, whoopee... But when I get an idea started, I am completed involved in it.  The story goes places I never expected when I started.
Same.  I would work on a story and inevitably get writer's block.  Then I go for a walk and unbidden, a scene plays out right in front of me.  All I really do is put what I experienced to paper and tweak it a little bit.

The first couple times, I forgot to bring a pen and paper with me and I'd end up forgetting half of it before I returned home. :(

Offline Sal1981

Re: What is fiction?
« Reply #10 on: September 29, 2017, 06:37:09 AM »
You may not understand writers, then.  They get into a world of their own.  I'm sure you know the phrase "willing suspension of disbelief", but you may not understand how deeply writers get into that. 

I've written a few dozen short stories.  A few published in those cheap self-published group anthologies.   Yeah, whoopee... But when I get an idea started, I am completed involved in it.  The story goes places I never expected when I started. 

The logic of the beginning brings you where you didn't expect.  I started one short story about a cave shaman woman and her accolytes from 20KYA, and to my surprise, I killed her in favor of one acolyte.  I'm not joking; I was surprised myself.  The rest of the story got better because that one acolyte was more interesting AND it was important that the older shaman died...

And I had no idea of that when I started the story!
But, at the end of the day, you're aware it's just a story, right?
"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool" --- Richard P. Feynman

Offline Baruch (OP)

Re: What is fiction?
« Reply #11 on: September 29, 2017, 07:02:49 AM »
Same.  I would work on a story and inevitably get writer's block.  Then I go for a walk and unbidden, a scene plays out right in front of me.  All I really do is put what I experienced to paper and tweak it a little bit.

The first couple times, I forgot to bring a pen and paper with me and I'd end up forgetting half of it before I returned home. :(

How do y'all think I post?  I save money, because I am a dry drunk ;-)
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Offline Baruch (OP)

Re: What is fiction?
« Reply #12 on: September 29, 2017, 07:05:03 AM »
But, at the end of the day, you're aware it's just a story, right?

He is creating his own reality ... same as you.  Why must there be a single Author, who is the one real writer?  Why not many?

Yes, some stories are so compelling (see patriotism) that people mistake it for reality.  Assuming anything is actually real, not just stories.
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Offline Sal1981

Re: What is fiction?
« Reply #13 on: September 29, 2017, 07:54:15 AM »
He is creating his own reality ... same as you.  Why must there be a single Author, who is the one real writer?  Why not many?

Yes, some stories are so compelling (see patriotism) that people mistake it for reality.  Assuming anything is actually real, not just stories.
I think that's equivocating two distinct qualitative experiences. "Experiencing" a fictional story, and the individual Experience of the world by the senses are two distinct notions.



If you're unable to tell the difference between the two, well, then I think this is a good time to see a psychiatrist about upping your dose.
"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool" --- Richard P. Feynman

Offline SGOS

Re: What is fiction?
« Reply #14 on: September 29, 2017, 08:50:16 AM »
I should think any self identified fiction writer would know he is writing fiction.  Otherwise, he wouldn't call himself a fiction writer.  Non fiction is a huge category, but a lot of non-fiction is actually fiction.  The ravings of ideologists and the blathering's of philosophers wander back and forth across the line of truth.  It seems obvious that many of these types can't tell the difference, while others are just having fun playing games with words, but these special subsets of nonfiction that are neither fiction or nonfiction.  Maybe there should be three categories; Fiction, nonfiction, and musing.