My current Starving Review book is a long one and, while I intend to get a review up tomorrow, I can make no guarantees. In the meantime, let me regale you with a little bit of thinking I had over the past week.
What is the purpose of fiction? At its core, what is fiction ‘about’? What is the common thread that all fiction should share, do you think?
I can only speak for my interpretation, but I would propose to you that the core purpose, beyond any and all other things, of fiction is to entertain.
That isn’t the *only* thing a work of fiction can do, naturally. A good piece of fiction entertains, educates, enlightens, and many other words that start with ‘e’. However, and consider this carefully, why would you read a work of fiction if it didn’t also entertain you? If you aren’t also seeking entertainment, be it fun, thrills, comedy, mystery, drama, or a million other ways to find enjoyment, why are you picking up fiction?
Surely, if one wants pure education, spiritual enlightenment, or religious insight, wouldn’t that one be better served going straight to the factual or philosophical sources? Yes, I am taking the stance that religious texts are not ‘fiction’. They are very real for those of their faiths. Yes, I know that often stories and small pieces of fiction are often included in many otherwise ‘non-fiction’ works. However, those small fictional bits are not your draw. You don’t read a math book for the intriguing word problems, right?
By that line of thought, then, why write a piece of fiction unless you fully embrace the need to entertain? I have read pieces that overwhelm the actual fictional story with heavy-handed philosophy or political subtext or historical arguments, forgetting that crucial need to entertain first. It’s really annoying as I have also read fantastic, fun volumes that, while fictional, also deliver deep, meaningful insights and themes ALONG WITH their entertainment. It can be done!
If you ignore that need to entertain first, what most often results is the people you really want to reach with your message never get it. They never get far enough in the book to absorb it. They simply give it up, writing off your work as heavy-handed and overly preachy. If you do remember to properly weave your themes along with an entertaining yarn, however, you can have the world eating out of your hand and learning a bit in the process.
Until next time, good luck and good writing!