Using memory associations and the soil which holds them in writing
Any form of writing requires the associations of the reader to interact with the text so that the reader can understand the words and ideas being presented. In a traditional piece of fiction using a third person narrative voice the writer attempts to elaborate the world inhabited by their characters through noting their observations, reactions, emotions, etc. to reveal their interactions with the fictional world and the other characters. This is done to give the reader a greater understanding of how the characters view their place in this fictional world.
Thus when accessing this type of narrative the reader is asked to develop an understanding of the characters, an understanding of how the characters became the way they are and why they are doing what they are doing. The writer can of course attempt to narrow this psychological distance from the reader by altering the narrative voice to either the first or second person but it is a narrowing and not the removal of it. Thusly regardless of the psychological distance inherit in a piece of fiction, it is the reader who learns, who develops an understanding. This idea of understanding is done on a cognitive level and returns very much to the ideas of Aristotle’s tabula rasa, in the sense that the reader starts with nothing, acquires knowledge, builds associations and then uses all of this to create the soil of the characters in a piece of fiction. Then once the story is finished, the reader might attempt to narrow or broaden or generalize or any number of thematic based activities to get the gist of the story down to a representation of some abstract idea they already hold in their brain to which to associate it. Or conversely the reader could have been twitched and tickled by one incident, event, character, place or element of the piece of fiction that they then remove from the whole and take it only into their mental associations, trying to connect it to elements previously gathered from the world. Or, this can go on forever, but the point is – the reader is given a reality via the fiction within which events occur and the minds, feelings, actions, etc. of the characters are shown – then – it is up to the reader what they do with them, if anything. And that is the point – the reader decides what to do with the information received from the story. Yes, there are those who will say, ‘I read that book and all I could think about was ‘blank’.’ However, that association to the ‘blank’ is not a necessary component to understanding the character(s) or the story.