I’m taking an online class (April Kilhstrom’s Book-in-a-Week, which is amazing by the way), and she addresses both fiction and nonfiction books.
As I was reading through some of the lessons yesterday, something about those words got stuck in my craw. Now, I’m not a linguist by any stretch of the imagination (and I’m far too lazy to actually look up either word’s etymology—I only have a few hours until the kids wake up, after all), but I found it interesting that the base word is FICTION (made up stuff) and the antonym of that word is NONfiction (truth – but we’ve had to actually add a negative prefix in order to create that word).
So what’s the bottom line? Why is this on my mind? Well, it seems to me that language elevates that which we value and need the most first and then adds in embellishments. If that’s true, then what humans (or, at least, English speaking humans) need with regard to the relaying of information in a narrative format is a story. Just a story, and truth be damned. We want the tale, the excitement, the adventure. We want FICTION. Sometimes, though, we need fact-based narratives, and then we fall back on NONfiction, but our core, our essence, is to crave story-telling — listening to and/or spinning those tales that keep us on the edge of our seats.
Which means that all those cave paintings representing the tribal men defeating the wooly mammoth? Quite possibly embellishment (or, perhaps, a You Too Can Kill a Mammoth instruction manual). Politicians? They’re not lying….no, they’re simply defaulting to their natural state and putting out fiction in the process.
And me? Well, I make a living by making sh*t up.
Guess that makes me human.
P.S. – I’ve got a related post about embellishing stories over at my cyber buddy S.M. Nonnemacher’s site. Come say hi!
What do you think? Does spinning a tale come more naturally to you than laying out the facts? Have you ever noticed a word or words that struck you as intriguing?