The Line between Imagination and Reality
When people typically read a story, they tend to connect with the characters or the story’s world. These connections are not simply enjoying the world or having a favorite character but connecting the fantasy to the readers’ reality. So now, the character the readers love may stem from their background and their relationships with the real world and its people. Although many readers and scholars would agree that associating their real-life experiences with the story brings the imagination to life, Felix Martinex-Bonati disagrees. In his article, “The Act of Writing Fiction,” he explains why attaching one’s life to the story destroys the narrative and the imagination.
It may sound unbelievable that attaching yourself to the story can hinder the piece because part of human nature is that we form bonds. These bonds aren’t just with people and animals, but they can be with anything capable of interaction, such as T.V. shows, movies, nonfiction, and fiction stories and music. The way a character is designed or interacts can trigger a memory, potentially giving readers more enjoyment and another reason to keep reading. The readers may also see themselves within a character or world making it more immersive or providing an escape from reality. With these bonds being connected, it raises the question of is it good, is it better to have this immersive world, or should it stay a fantasy and be pure fiction.
One of the problems Martinex-Bonati addresses is when people associate their life with the story, they “succeed only in reading, unsatisfactorily, some fragments of it, and we find ourselves forced to give up this task” (1). Linking with the story takes away its credibility. It makes the fictional world crumble because expectations must be met since that is how the reader imagined the story or character would act. If the fictional world created can be controlled by reality and the reader’s perspective, is it still considered a fantasy world if the reader is in it? The line between reality and fantasy gets blurred, and if the two struggle to be distinguishable, the illusion is gone.
As writers and readers, we must ask ourselves which is the better option. If you plan on writing, would you want the world to be immersive and have the audience feel connected to it? This outcome could lead to a polarizing response since some may love the story’s direction while others may hate it and try to change its direction somehow because it’s not how they would have acted or how they imagined something should have been. The other option is asking yourself is better to have the line separated, making the fiction unattached with a potential loss of readers due to the lack of immersion, which may lead to fewer backseat writers? Both options have positives and negatives, so it is up to you to decide if there should be a barrier between reality and fantasy.
Martínez-Bonati, Félix. “The Act of Writing Fiction.” New Literary History 11 (1980): 425.