Fiction vs. Nonfiction: The Imagined and the Real

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When I read a piece of literature, I am almost always conscious of whether it has been designated fiction or non-fiction. I have already added the first shade of dye to a glass of water whose color will come to symbolize my perception of the work.

I differentiate these modes of literary production in much the same way a dictionary would: fiction encompasses those narratives which come chiefly from the imagination, while non-fiction encompasses writing which adheres to fact. Yet I find the real difference lies in each genre’s function. To me fiction and non-fiction are associated with the inward and the outward, with respective urges toward reflection and discovery.

Despite this fundamental difference, the two are interlinked. Imagined stories have no choice but to come out of the real stories which surround us, and real stories have no choice but to be influenced by our imaginations.

What motivates some writers to choose one category over the other? I see writing fiction as a sort of meditation on reality. Without true fascination and engagement with the actual happenings that surround us, fiction might lose its purpose. For me the relationship between non-fiction and fiction has begun to evolve into something like that between waking and sleeping: they are dependent on one another, yet there is dominance of the former: my being seems now to lean more toward what is dynamic, what is yet to be unveiled, what is out there.

Though I have done very little writing, having only recently become interested in it as a vocation, it is beginning to reflect this perceived dominance. My interest in pure fiction is still very much alive, but more and more I am writing essayistic passages in which I explore issues I see coming up in my day-to-day life. This practice is now extending into a desire to research and write of other people’s lives, to write journalism. Perhaps one day I will settle into an idiosyncratic oeuvre of sorts, but for now I am in the lab, testing proclivities.

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