Hoo, boy...I've missed two weeks of fractals...sorry about that...
Ah, life. Such a wonderful, pesky little thing when it comes at you. :) I now have my official driver's permit, and am attempting to figure out online application forms (why don't they have paper applications anymore???).
One way writing is a "plunge into reality" is getting to explore yourself. Something I do with most of my characters is give them something of myself: a phobia, a peeve, a friend, an embarrassing moment, an insecurity, etc. Then I flip everything by asking things like, "What if "I" acted like this instead," "How would the situation change if..." and "Why do "I"/the character care about this enough to get into a power play?"
You can find out a lot of strange things about yourself this way...and it can make you want to smile, laugh, hide your face behind your hands, and/or beat yourself with a brick (just like home videos do.) ;)
How is writing fiction a "plunge into reality" for you?