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I love this line of inquiry. "Big Fish" is a good movie to watch along these lines if anybody is interested.

Does fiction have a place in business writing?

Yes, and it's sorely needed.

One point Swombat missed was that much of what we read as non-fiction is actually closer to very speculative science-fiction. For instance, nobody really knows what the year 1700 was like in England. We have various accounts, we make various assumptions, we fill in the blanks with educated guesses. In the end, whether we mean to or not, we create a narrative of things that happen that makes sense to us.

The same goes for 1900, or 1200. All of history in this way is a form of fiction. (A very good and very educational form, I might add)

The same goes for what constitutes popular science articles. Somebody wants to write a popular article on how human sexuality developed. So they accumulate lots of studies and data, then create an evolutionary-based scientific-sounding narrative around that. Makes for great reading, and most wouldn't even think of it as fiction, but I don't think it approaches the "truth" of something like 2+2=4, or even the validity of Newtonian Physics.

Our brains love narratives, stories, and will find them even where none exist. It's the way we are wired to learn. Pure fiction, by being unconstrained by facts, allows us to explore how various emotional states are reached and vicariously think about how we would act. It does a heck of a lot of good in a lot of ways, the least of which is that it helps us practice how to learn.




One point Swombat missed was that much of what we read as non-fiction is actually closer to very speculative science-fiction. For instance, nobody really knows what the year 1700 was like in England. We have various accounts, we make various assumptions, we fill in the blanks with educated guesses. In the end, whether we mean to or not, we create a narrative of things that happen that makes sense to us.

I'd argue that you could say the same about supposedly factual stories and accounts. After all, people are highly subjective in the way they remember stories. For example, the way I would tell the story of how my first startup fell apart is very different to the way my cofounder would.


I've heard good things about The Storytelling Animal [1], it is on my To Read list, but I haven't gotten to it yet.

[1]: http://www.amazon.com/The-Storytelling-Animal-Stories-Human/...




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