There is a certain slippage here, though, in so far as maybe we are construing Tristes Tropiques, Argonauts and travel writing and Moby Dick and Dostoyevsky all as 'fiction' (or perhaps all as realism?), in which case where is the point of comparison or distinction?
Owen wrote: “i was touching on an idea that the imagination is not infinite, and that you can't just pull "anything" out of your hat. That for it to make sense, and to communicate it, it will have to be based on some form of real experience.”
I’ve got this idea that I call cultural saliency. What it means is that there must be something about a story that connects to a reader’s fund of cultural knowledge in order to be sensible, thus compelling. From a methodological point of view from anthropology, maybe a basic task would be to develop a sense of the culturally salient elements of a story, and why they are so.