Word for Word: The facts of fiction


It is conceivable that the only world in which one’s every idealistic thought and plan is achieved is fictional. Assuming that fictional writing, generally speaking, is the only capacity in which this idea of one person having total authority over fate, it is puzzling that more people do not show an interest in fictional writing.

Ask someone to name authors that they can think of, and they will likely mention names such as William Shakespeare, F. Scott Fitzgerald, J.R.R Tolkien, Kurt Vonnegut, Ernest Hemingway, or J.K. Rowling. One thing that these authors all have in common is their contribution to the fictional realm, be it in the creation of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter or Middle Earth. So many influential works of literature are fiction, yet it seems as though many people do not write fiction. When asked why more people do not devote time to writing fiction, there is no clear cut answer.

With fiction, published authors are often glorified, whereas those who are just beginning are stigmatized and viewed as more childlike. Along with a general aversion to fictional writing, it can be argued that the reason people do not write more can be related to both emotional and psychological aspects. Instead of viewing writing as empowering and productive, individuals often only acknowledge the fact that the process of writing can be grueling and lonely.

In our current society, many people are used to, and strive for, instant gratification. People are used to getting what they want when they want it, or relatively quickly at least. This sense of gratification can be achieved when participating in academic writing. If an individual is writing a research paper, more often than not, he or she can quickly obtain all of the information needed to proceed with their assignment. Composing fictional works, however, is different because instead of pulling from someone else’s knowledge, the person writing must create every idea presented from scratch. Writing novels and great works are not conducive to immediate gratification due to the amount of time that must be spent in order for the writer to accurately portray his or her vision.  In this there is a greater sense of permanency, obligation, and commitment. Fiction provides a significantly greater opportunity to be memorable and impactful. This can be both scary and frustrating due to the drive to create a “perfect” story and portray it in a way where others interpret it the way it has been imagined. Writers of fiction also have a sense of obligation and commitment to their characters. At times, writers are inclined to “listen” to their characters. This obligation can increase the pressure to produce a work that is considered “perfect.” 

Despite the general aversion to fictional writing and the taxing process that comes with it, fictional writing can be tremendously beneficial. The process of writing works of fiction can enable individuals to express themselves and in turn build emotional intelligence. Academic writing is beneficial, but fictional writing provides a greater outlet and is often done willingly. Fictional writing can be an escape from a stressful reality, and may be just what students need in order to step back, alleviate some stress, and create something that they find meaningful and worth being proud of.

This column about writing and the writing process is created by the Amarillo College Writers’ Corner tutors. The name “Word for Word” pays tribute to Robert W. Wylie (1923-2011), who worked at Amarillo College from 1963 until 1992.  He was chairman of the English Department from 1984 to 1992, served as Writer-in-Residence at AC for several years after his retirement and wrote a weekly column for the Amarillo Globe-News called “Word for Word” from 1992 through 2003.

The Writers’ Corner provides free tutors who review assignment requirements, provide constructive feedback, and guide students through all phases of the writing process.

The Writer’s Corner also offers:

  *   One-on-one tutoring sessions with trained tutors
  *   Small workshops throughout the semester covering various aspects of academic writing
  *   In-class presentations on the role of the Writers’ Corner
  *   A waiting area for walk-ins and early arrivals
  *   Coffee for students with appointments

The Writers’ Corner is located in Ordway Hall, Room 104 and can be reached at writerscorner@actx.eduor (806) 345-5580. Learn more at https://www.actx.edu/english/writerscorner.

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