Fun vs. Meaning: Does writing have to be deep?

I write action-adventure, sports, and superhero yarns.  Those genres certainly would seem to represent a stronghold of fun and a refugee from deeper meaning.  I can imagine in some people’s minds there’s an inverse relationship between fun books and educational books.  If something is supposed to be ‘insightful’ or ‘meaningful’ or ‘instructive’, it’s really not allowed to be ‘entertaining’ or ‘engrossing’ or ‘delightful’, is it?   I mean, we have laws for that, right?

I think most of us that write or most of us that truly enjoy reading would find objection to that notion.  The simple fact of the matter is that most any piece that is written from the author’s heart bears an imprint of some kind of deeper meaning.  Sure, it may not be the point of the piece and it may not even be intended, but that meaning is still there.

Sure, that meaning isn’t always the most though-provoking and it may not even be properly explored by the story, especially when such themes are unintentional.  It still does not mean we cannot learn something from everything we read, even the really bad books.  Even the process of writing a piece can be eye-opening to the author as they discover things about themselves they never knew before.

The next time you pick up a favorite popcorn novel, stop to think about what other meanings are behind the entertainment.  The next time you finish a short story or a chapter or a poem, contemplate what meaning you have left behind in it.  You never know what you may find.



  1. Great post. The most insightful, meaningful, instructive, entertaining, engrossing and delightful educational book I ever read, is BBC reporter James Burke’s “Connections,” the companion volume to his PBS television documentary series, aired in the late 1970s. (I’d like to think that my own book is the most insightful, meaningful, instructive, entertaining, engrossing and delightful novel, but your action-adventure, sports and superhero yarns probably beat it by a country mile.)

    This is like the notion that if you enjoy your job, you’re not really working, because work cannot be fun. Horse hockey!

    1. Excellent point about work.

      If I were to hazard a guess, I think people often create strange relationships like that between factors because we have a deep-seated need to create points of comparison in our mind. We love opposition, it seems, so we create it even when it doesn’t actually exist.

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