Fiction, by its very definition, concerns itself with things that are not true. It is made up to help ameliorate the harsh realities of life. And if it were true, it would be a memoir or a biography, nonfiction. So why does it seem like people expect reality from their fiction?
Disregarding genre fiction (sci-fi, fantasy, romance - the sort that seems more acceptably escapist), people want real/realistic stories. Even if the story about a soldier coming home from Afghanistan never actually happened, they want the author to have done the research and depict a real soldier coming to a real home from a real Afghanistan.
Recently I've been putting together my collection of short stories to try and get them published, and one thing I noticed that I am drawn to is the juxtaposition of fact and fiction. What do facts do in a fictional story? I like to bring out an awareness of the insecurity of things. Even outside of fiction, in the real world, there are few hard and fast facts. Are there things that are always true? What happens to those things when you talk about them in a fictional world?
There needs to be order and logic in a story, otherwise everything becomes arbitrary and meaningless and unreadable. If your facts are contrary to reality, they should at least have an internal validity. A truth at the beginning of a story should be true at the end. But it might be possible to experiment with contradictions in fiction, to elucidate upon fictional elements, indicating that there are no truths. It might be a more realistic reflection of the nature of things to be arbitrary and meaningless.
I like to utilize unfaithful narrators. The opposite of omnipresent omniscience. Human authors who make inaccurate assertions. Words like "maybe," "I guess," and "I think." Assurance is never a given in my fictional world where there might not be any facts, or there might.
All of this has more to do with the role of fiction in fiction, a sort of anathema practice outside of genre fiction.
I am also interested in factual content couched in a fictional world, like Tao Lin's Shoplifting from American Apparel. American Apparel is a real store and Tao Lin uses it and other pop culture references like Andy Warhol did to populate his fictional universe. The concrete factual structures scintillate against his absurd plot. Or, having facts in fiction can set a tone of reality, like Hemingway. You get the idea that his stories are things experienced by him if not exactly as he described them.
Fiction is entertainment, moralizing, pedantic, self expression, escapism, fantasizing, reauthoring. What about a narrator who is not trying to edify? Who tells stories to cause chaos and unmake things. A nihilist poet.