Why Do People Read Books?
People have many reasons for reading books. In broadest terms, novels and nonfiction have different functions based on what readers want to experience. Sol Stein defines the difference this way:
Nonfiction conveys information. Fiction evokes emotion. Because the intended results are so different, the mind-sets required for writing fiction and nonfiction are different.
In other words, good nonfiction gives you facts and good fiction gives you emotional experiences.
Why Read Novels?
People read novels for many reasons.
One reason might be reading fiction to escape temporarily from current life experience. Novels can take readers into new places, situations, or even new worlds.
Another possible reason for reading novels is loneliness. Readers can ease their loneliness by becoming involved in the lives of fictional characters.
Another important reason is to be entertained. It's fun, interesting, and entertaining.
When Writers Distract
When writers provide information rather than an emotional experience, they have crossed the boundary between fiction and nonfiction. This is how Sol Stein describes this distraction:
In fiction, when information obtrudes the experience of the story pauses. Raw information comes across as an interruption, the author filling in.
The fiction writer must avoid anything that distracts from the experience even momentarily. A failure to understand this difference between nonfiction and fiction is a major reason for the rejection of novels.
Whether your own intention is to write fiction, nonfiction, or both, Sol Stein's description of the fundamental distinction between information and emotions provides valuable insight about the the craft of writing books. Knowing this can be the essential difference between a published novel and a rejected novel.