Life as fiction

Pulp_Fiction_coverFiction – it’s just stories that aren’t true. Or is it more than that? Can fiction be truer than reality? After all, life is a narrative, not a collection of facts. Fiction joins the dots.

It’s easy to recognize a good story when we read it. But it’s harder to realize that our own lives are stories too.

When we read a story, we want our hero to face challenges, danger and mystery. But in our own lives we want everything to be easy and straightforward. We cry when we experience set backs. We throw tantrums when we don’t get what we want on the first attempt.


Every story starts with a problem. Without a problem, there’s no need for the hero to act. If there’s a problem in your life right now, you should be glad. It marks the start of a great adventure!


Good fiction comes in three parts and follows a series of well-defined beats. A story has ups and downs. It doesn’t travel in a straight line. That would be boring. The hero must face challenges and overcome them. The hero must demonstrate qualities like courage, persistence, generosity and kindness.

Sometimes in life we experience disasters. They come out of the blue and knock us flat. Often they come on top of other problems. In fiction, these are called “catalysts” – they are an opportunity for the hero to change. Will the hero decide to make that change? Of course! Otherwise there would be no story! But the hero must spend some time agonizing and despairing before making that decision, otherwise it won’t feel significant.

So if your life is full of problems, disaster strikes, and you just don’t know what to do next, then rejoice! You’re about to enter Part Two of your story.

Part Two is full of ups and downs. You’ll meet new people, visit new places, learn new skills. You’ll make enemies too, and face hardships. But eventually you’ll achieve some success. This is the midpoint of your story. It’s sometimes known as the false victory! Ha! This is where the stakes are raised and the bad guys really start to close in. If you thought things were tough before, they will get a lot worse now!


You can’t have a knockout ending to a story unless the hero has a dark, all is lost moment first. Here the hero is allowed a moment to wallow in defeat, pity and self-blame. Very often that dark moment comes immediately before victory is achieved. Those are the best stories.


Sometimes the hero needs a friend or mentor to show them the key to victory. But you know what? In the end the hero wins because of all the trials and tribulations they’ve been through on their narrative journey. They use the skills they’ve learned on the way. They overcome their internal problems and by changing themselves, they are able to change their situation. How empowering a thought is that? Why wouldn’t we want that for our own lives?


So if life is getting you down and everything seems to be against you, remind yourself that the next chapter will be better and that this is just one step along your own personal story.

Every life is a story, and every story has a hero. What’s your story? Comedy, tragedy, mystery, thriller? Maybe even an erotic dystopian vampire romance?Whatever your story, live it to the full.

21 responses to “Life as fiction

  1. wonderfull story, good words, woah! wake me up and get life as fiction, thanks a lot 😀

  2. I don’t think I’m in the middle of an erotic dystopian vampire romance, unless meeting that nice bloke when I was buying mince at Marks and Sparks counts…

  3. Terrific post, Steve! Actually made me feel better about having problems 🙂

  4. Tienzen (Jeh-Tween) Gong

    “Can fiction be truer than reality? After all, life is a narrative, not a collection of facts. Fiction joins the dots. … Every story starts with a problem. … You can’t have a knockout ending to a story unless the hero has a dark, all is lost moment first.”

    Right on the nail’s head.

    Fiction goes way beyond being some person’s lives and stories. The major fiction is always written by the entire society.

    Darwin mechanism was and still is viewed as the only ‘science’ on evolution, and it was declared so by many US courts.

    Yet, ‘intelligence’ is an empirical fact. If it does not come out in the blue, it must be there from the beginning or as an essential part of its emerging process (evolution or else); that is, any ‘blind’ process cannot be a correct process for the emerging of ‘intelligence’. This conclusion can be made ‘philosophically’ by every street-walking person, but a totally ‘blind’ process is still held as the only science on evolution. Unfortunately, it is in our soul to submit our soul to the fiction, without any desire and courage to challenge the fiction. We can only wait for the ‘hero’ to save our souls.

    Fortunately, this situation is a bit better now as someone is now rethinking the issue. See, .

  5. Dear Steve:

    I absolutely love this perspective. And, it comes at a critical time for me, as I am struggling to view my hardships and responses to them in a positive light so that I can change and grow in order to be a better person, mother and wife.

    And, I am doing this both in real time, and through rewriting my memoir, which now focuses solely on motherhood. I struggle with my story being bogged down with only negative memories, and know that I need to forgive myself/believe I did the best I could at the time in order for growth and for my story to possess the critical strides of which you speak.

    It is a story of victory, even if I am only just accepting that now. My writing’s strength is my honesty, but that also means that when I don’t believe what I am writing or it is time to present events in a positive light and I don’t believe it, that will come across to the reader. I find it much easier to write about negative emotions and events because I believe them and it showcases my writing strength.

    Thank you so much for this post. It provided a much needed lift.

    best regards,

  6. There is no such thing as fiction! If you can think it then it can happen! (Let’s fly to the moon or Mars or maybe even the other side of the Universe……..but not today……..maybe in a few years time…….& maybe not even me!)

  7. Mine is definitely a comedy….

  8. emilymullaswilson

    What a great post! I think it’s fascinating how most people choose a narrative structure for their lives and then fictionalize their lives to conform to the narrative they’ve chosen. I don’t mean that they intentionally lie about themselves; I just mean that they promote the details that strengthen their narrative and omit details that weaken it. This process is especially evident on social media, where most people choose a positive storyline (my life is awesome! you want to be me!), but a few people choose a negative storyline (my life sucks! feel sorry for me!). Fiction can give us a great deal of insight into our lives because it makes us more aware of the narrative structures we use. I look forward to following your blog!

  9. What a lovely, light-hearted way of looking at life; it makes you feel you can change the plot instead of losing it. This post is reminiscent of my favourite sentence in your novel, when the hero realises that “…the probability lines were in constant flux, closing doors and opening a thousand new ones in a heartbeat.”

    • Thank you – yes, changing the plot is the way to go. Once you realise that you are the author of your own life, not the reader, anything becomes possible.
      Bonus points for quoting from my novel 🙂

  10. Particularly true if you believe that the story we weave about ourselves active creates that as reality ?!

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