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Why do we read fiction and why do we write fiction?
Here's a little video about my thoughts on the matter. What do you think?
If you like to read, here's what I cover in the video:
Life is fantastic but it can also be pretty crappy, overwhelming, busy and crazy at times. We sometimes need escape and that's what great fiction gives us. Escape from the daily grind.
Humans have always wanted stories and they have been told round the campfire through then generations. The TV is just a big campfire although there are some pretty bad stories out there!
But also great ones – we go to the movies for escape and entertainment. We go to a book for the same reason – to be taken out of ourselves.
So why write fiction?
Entertaining people and giving them respite from craziness is valid, creating a story from your mind, from the ideas in your head is valid and exciting. It’s fun to come up with ideas – sometimes I wonder where they come from! We write fiction to entertain ourselves, to challenge ourselves and also to entertain others
When you read my words, we connect across time and space – it’s a miracle, stories are a miracle. That’s why we write fiction.
Jamie Guiney says
Fiction allows us to live a hundred other lifetimes and experience some things we can never physically experience ourselves….
Joanna Penn says
That’s so right Jamie. I love the research aspect of writing, and just imagining where it might all go.. I’m getting the hang of making stuff up these days!
Bruce H. Johnson says
We create art (all kinds) to give an emotional impact to the audience. We read (or otherwise act as an audience for other art forms) for the same reason.
Even being scared out of our gourds by thrillers is an emotional impact. “Boring” is rarely a term we use for a volutary activity.
Joanna Penn says
That’s great Bruce – and keeping that in mind while writing is important. Most entertaining fiction is not about the daily grind, we need some emotional upheaval. On a mass market sense I love Grey’s Anatomy the drama, as it is so removed from my life and emotionally engaging with life/death scenarios every episode. I want to write something as engaging as that! (possibly not your example though!)
Gideon Shalwick says
Loved the bit about when you enjoy writing it people will enjoy reading it.
I’ve definitely found that with my latest book Rapid Video Blogging, that you were so kind to proofread for me!
Great video Joanna! Sorry I did not read the post… you know me… I’m a video guy hehehe!
Joanna Penn says
Thanks Gideon! I am doing more video because of your great encouragement and excellent information!
Joanne Tombrakos says
Love this post! I wrote one a few weeks ago on why I think we should read fiction. For me it is more than escape. It inspires my own creativity. http://onewomanseye.blogspot.com/2010/07/read-fiction.html
Ami Mattison says
Thanks for a fun video post, Joanna! I definitely read fiction to escape and I write fiction because I enjoy the surprise of constantly discovering what the story is and where it’s going. Also, as Toni Morrison advises, if I can’t find a story I want to read, then I write it myself.
Mary Tod says
Hi Joanna – just listened to your video on writing fiction. In addition to your reasons and a few mentioned in other comments, I would add that I write fiction to express my thoughts and ideas about various topics through what my characters say and do. I find it quite intriguing to use my stories to explore topics like marriage, friendship, love, sacrifice and in the process become clearer on how I think. I didn’t expect this outcome when I began.
Adam iWriteReadRate says
Another tough question, Joanna!!
Why do we read…? To transport ourselves to other places, visualise and feel different things. (I wrote an article on our blog recently about ‘The Social Experience of Reading’)
Why do we write…? To tell others the randomness and chaos firing from the neurons of our brain, in an ordered form the best way we can – with words. We write because we have to…!
All the best
Elisabeth Cortese says
“I read fiction to take an adventure, to transport my mind to a new realm or portal , who said there is no such thing as time travel or mind travel to another world? I write fiction to share this experience with others.” Tweet me @ElisabethC06
Joanna Penn says
Thanks Elisabeth – I definitely aim to take people outside their lives for a period.
Maria Tatham says
This was excellent as motivation! Thank you!
Often music inspires me to write, especially a good filmscore. Your ideas have provided the same kind of inspiration when I’ve been bogged down. I immediately wanted to get back to writing. This is probably because of your joy – joy is often contagious.
Hi. I just started wrting my first fiction book about 1 week ago. My motivation is to share my thoughts on a particular subject, and to create my own fiction that resonates with me. (Since no body else is doing it) So, far I am having fun, as I create characters, come up with dialogue, and new Ideas for upcoming books. Sometimes I cannt stop my self from writing, and on other days, I cannot get a word out….This process if fun….I hope my readers enjoy my art.
I am at that stage now where I am trying to find purpose in my fiction and nonfiction writing. Nothing I have written past or current speak adventure to me anymore,, its like quick sand that wont swallow you under or spit you out your just there. Others have said step away find something else that inspire or interest you.
I’ve tried volunteering, painting, coloring, rearranging, journaling but nothing works, I am drawn right back to having that need to write…. That’s all I know and seem to gravitate back to, but it is annoying when I cant sit and finish what I start….It is quite a dilemma.