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Sunday, 15 June 2008

Fiction

The definition of fiction in the Collins Gem dictionary = prose, literary works of the imagination; invented statement or story - fictional, fictitious, not genuine, false; imaginary; assumed.

Now this makes me ask why do some reviewers of 'fiction' criticize the fact that the stories are imaginary, and/or unbelievable? Surely this is what fiction is all about, taking the reader into another place. Certainly the imaginary part is, although a lot of characteristics, events, places, and emotions are real. The fictitious story that weaves through all of the above is invented by the writer - born in the writers imagination.

But let's stop and think for a second...what about Dracula, and the numerous vampire stories that abound today? What about werewolves, and zombies? Do some readers expect to meet a zombie in the supermarket?
Perhaps some reviewers know more than us writers of fiction do. Perhaps their next door neighbour sleeps in a coffin in the cellar and only comes out at night wearing a black cloak and flashing his pearly whites, and exercises his werewolf before going to work at the blood bank!
If this is the case then I would like to know!

Which takes me back to unbelievable situations, and characters.
Well, I'll bet you've all said at least once in your lifetime, "I never thought I would find myself in a situation like that. It was unbelievable."
I rest my case.

Fictional characters are a magic and heady mix of a writers imagination. They can, and will do totally unexpected things. It all adds to the character's flavour.
Every reader will react differently to a books characters, they will love some and hate some, and just accept some. If strong emotion is generated then the writer has created a successful character. Some reviewers will react and think, oh god that character could be me! Another might think, I could write better than that. In my experience this type of reviewer has usually never written more than a shopping list.

Some reviewers favour certain authors (don't we all?).
I enjoy reading James Herbert, Sat Nav loves reading Jilly Cooper. But we don't criticize other authors just because these are our current top favourites.
I read lots of fiction and non-fiction. Some I like, and some I don't. It's all down to personal taste.
If someone asks my opinion on a book I always give the positive points as I see them, never the negative. Even if I didn't particularly enjoy the book I do this, because how do I know that the person asking my opinion will not think it's the best thing they've ever read? Again, it's personal taste.

So all you fiction writers out there, keep writing...you are all brilliant!