What makes a work of fiction actually fiction?
According to its definition, a work of fiction is derived from imagination, in addition to, or rather than from history or fact. Fiction is assumed to not represent characters who are actual people, or descriptions that are factually true. Yet those lines are blurred all the time.
Take, for instance, a historical fiction novel. Historical fiction places imaginary characters into real life historical events. While much about the event is correct – times, dates, geography, specific details – the characters themselves didn’t actually exist. Yet from thorough research, a writer can imagine how a person would have felt, who they were, how they acted, what they may have done. Would they closely resemble a person that actually existed? Possibly so.
The same occurs all the time with modern day fiction.
As a writer, I am constantly researching locations, events, specific details that make an area unique. I am a woman. I am a nurse. I’ve served in the military. I live life on a daily basis.
When I write about love, it’s through the eyes of someone who has experienced love. When I write about travel, it’s through the eyes of someone who has traveled extensively through different countries and cultures.
While my characters may be products of my imagination, they take on a life based on who I am, what I know, what I’ve learned and what I’ve researched. They are an extension of what I know from experiencing life around me, without pinpointing the particulars of any one thing.
Is that fiction? Is that reality?
Is there really any other way?