Jim DeLorey's Blog

Official website of Detroit author Jim DeLorey

Pieces of the Puzzle: Vicarious Experience

vi·car·i·ous / Adjective:

Experienced in the imagination through the feelings or actions of another person: “vicarious pleasure”. 

Felt or undergone as if one were taking part in the experience or feelings of another.

The essential ingredient of all successful stories is to create a series of intense, vivid vicarious experiences that culminate in a satisfying conclusion for the reader/audience.

Consider the almost insane popularity of professional sports, worldwide.  It is due to the fact that the spectator has the vicarious experience of competing in, excelling at, and winning the game – and especially the big game.

Do the efforts of the athletes on the playing field (outstanding as they may be) have any real and intrinsic relationship to the actual lives of the fans watching them?  To whether they’re winning or losing at life?  Objectively, the answer is no – none whatsoever.  The importance, the high-stakes drama, the frenzy even, are entirely a subjective inner projection by the emotionally-engaged audience.

Our job  as writers of popular fiction is to mentally transport people into word-spun realms where they can have powerful vicarious experiences of love and hate, good and evil, right and wrong, justice and injustice, war and peace,  and – yes – winning and losing.

Do this job effectively – give people the illusion they are living a high-stakes drama, while they are in fact sitting somewhere reading and turning pages of text – and you are (or will be) a successful professional writer…



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