Bella or Sarah?
Olive or Michael?
Lately, it seems like real characters are more interesting than fictional ones (and real stories more bizarre than fictional ones). So, why shouldn't readers flock to biographies, celebrity or otherwise, to learn about human nature?
There was a time when fiction provided more for readers. Aside from entertainment, fiction had the power to educate people on topics that were too taboo to discuss in the open. Want to learn about the psychology of adultery? Read Anna Karenina. Want to know what it's like kill someone? Try Crime and Punishment. When these books came out, they were revolutionary, not simply because they were well-written, but because they were valuable. They provided readers with information that helped them navigate through their own lives. They served as predictions, as warnings, as assurances. But, nowadays, when I want to learn about extraordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, I'm often better off in the realm of reality.
Times have changed. Subject matters that used to be private no longer are. And, because of that, I think readers don't see the value of fiction, if indeed that value still exists. It has become merely a form of entertainment--and an energy consuming one at that! If books aren't doing anything more than providing a few hours of distraction, why not see a movie instead?
So, I wonder: Is there still value to fiction? And, if so, what is it? Are we, as writers, neglecting to provide our readers with something more than just a story?