I recently completed reading The Life of Pi by Yann Martel. It provoked in me a strong emotional response. It wrecked me. I went back to the story – reread the ending, then the opening. Set it aside, then picked it back up. I Googled: Is The Life of Pi fiction or nonfiction?
Apparently I am not the only one to ask the question. Several sites discuss this, Goodreads included.
The author hooks the reader with an ‘authors note’. Fiction presented as truth. Martel has been quoted as stating: ‘Anything is believable if you give it the guise of reality’. After reading the fantastical tale, I couldn’t say convincingly it was a work of fiction. Though I reasoned it was, my heart was convinced otherwise.
Friends and I went opening night to see the new Star Wars movie. We saw it in 3D. Highly enjoyable entertainment, though far easier to distinguish as fiction. While I was emotionally impacted, it did not affect me the same as The Life of Pi.
The awakening of The Force happened in a galaxy far, far away. I don’t hang with Wookie’s, or own a hover craft. Pi’s adventure began in a country I can locate on a map. I know people who have visited there. I am familiar with life on the ocean, and know what life aboard a ship is like. I could identify the animals mentioned in the story.
Four days later I still feel sorrow and outrage when I think of the things Pi suffered. Yet it was fiction. Masterfully written fiction. Word pictures so vivid, I tasted salt and grew thirsty.
Writer, strive for that kind of mastery. Practice, rewrite, read, then write some more. Don’t be in a hurry to be published. Learn the craft. Hone your skills.