Fiction is all around us — in the movies we watch, the books we read, the stores we tell each other. We all consume fiction every day, and telling made-up stories has been a part of the human experience since the dawn of man.
But why should we care? Fiction must serve some purpose in our lives, or it wouldn’t matter so much to us. What are the benefits of fiction?
Related questions: What is the difference between lying and fiction? How can we strengthen our imagination? How important is the artist to art?
3 thoughts on “What Are The Benefits Of Fiction?”
Fiction is incredibly powerful for several reasons. I’ll mention two of them. First, as human beings, we learn and grow based on experience and reflection. The broader our experiences and the deeper our reflections, the more learning and growth. There are only so many things we are going to be able to experience first hand (because of time, resources, ability, etc.), but we can greatly expand our options through fiction. Certainly it’s possible to expand the range of what we are exposed to through non-fiction as well. However, and this leads into my second reason, fiction has the added benefit of being able to allow us to experience and reflect on potential experiences that no one has yet had. It might be a political or military thriller that imagines some new threat, or a science fiction story that imagines the impact of a significant social or technological change, or a crime or courtroom drama that considers a potential moral grey area. Again, it’s true that non-fictions could lay out the scenarios for us to consider them as well, but a non-fiction treatment of something no one has yet experienced doesn’t have the same power as living it (vicariously through the characters) and being able to reflect on it.
I think that a good story, whether fiction or real, is one of the best ways to learn things because, when well done, it makes learning pleasant and easy. This compelling interest in stories must have evolved along with our imagination and the parts of the mind that make us care what happens to ourselves as well as the people and things in our world.
Empathy. Reading fiction is putting yourself into other shoes and seeing the world from new perspectives.