Some people don’t like fiction, saying, “It’s all just make-believe, I prefer biography,” or “I’d rather watch a movie.” Whatever, they are still experiencing a tale. We do not know when the oral traditions of storytelling began, but probably long enough ago that fiction became entrenched as the biological need it has become. Biological need? Yep. In biology, survival tends to get rid of anything unnecessary, yet fiction continues. We have a need for it and spend countless hours in other worlds of fantasy (all fiction is fantasy), which might be better spent doing something else, so why? In some ways, it remains a mystery, but Joseph Campbell, Carl Jung, and Vladimir Propp showed in their respective researches how stories might serve some deep spiritual and mental needs for both the author and the reader.
Fiction isn’t just a way to relax and to pass time, or a method to relieve stress, or to help a person fall asleep. It is an ongoing collision between fantasy and reality that takes the reader on a journey of some sort, whether an adventure tour, a voyage of growth, a drive to change entrenched viewpoints, or an expedition to achieving a long-sought goal. A story always contains a problem that needs solving, which provides an experience that calls for the reader’s personal interaction, learning, and maybe his or her personal change. If that interaction doesn’t happen, neither does the story.