The Meaning of Fiction

Definition of fiction. 1 a : something invented by the imagination or feigned; specifically : an invented story b : fictitious literature (as novels or short stories) c : a work of fiction; especially : novel.

Pic of fiction shelves

As you may realise if you have been reading this blog for a while, my novels deal with time travel and alternative history.

They have occasionally been criticised for not complying with the laws of physics (‘If you change history, your heroine will not have existed’, ‘You can’t go backwards in time’, ‘You can’t have Richard co-existing with his bones – it breaks the laws of physics’, ‘It would create a paradox’, etc, etc). Well, I’ve got news for you folks: the books are FICTION, products of my own imagination, so actually I can break the laws of physics, the law of the land, the law of gravity or any other law I like. In my books, I am God and I can do whatever I wish. That’s what fiction means (see above) – it doesn’t have to stick to the facts or the rules. And that’s what makes it fun both to write and to read. It gives you the ability to surprise, shock and entertain. It allows for creativity, ingenuity and originality. The ‘Back to the Future’ trilogy didn’t care about the laws of physics as long as the storyline was entertaining and the viewers could follow the plot – and they were great films.

Having said that, I do try to make my fictional world consistent in order to allow the reader to immerse themselves in my world and suspend their disbelief for a while. If everything were completely outlandish the story wouldn’t flow or give the illusion of a ‘real’ situation.

I remember the story of a cartoonist who wrote tales of a hero escaping from all sorts of dire situations – a different one every week. Then he went on holiday and his advance episodes got lost. The hero was tied on a railway track with the train almost upon him. How had the cartoonist got him out of this predicament? They couldn’t work it out. The Editor was beside himself and tried to get an assistant to sort out the ending, but despite wracking his brains, he could think of no way to save the hero. In desperation they sent a telegram to the cartoonist on his holiday and begged him to help them – could he send a reply back telling them how the hero escapes the oncoming train? When the reply arrived they opened it eagerly. The cartoonist had written: ‘In one bound he was free!’

A rather extreme example, but I’m sure you know what I mean!


Image credit: By SEMSLibraryLady (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons


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