1. General Daedalus
    Offline

    General Daedalus Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2015
    Messages:
    121
    Likes Received:
    45

    Can a novel just be entertaining?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by General Daedalus, Aug 9, 2015.

    Can a novel be based on entertainment? Of course it must entertain the reader, but is this enough? What I'm trying to say is that when you write a novel, you have to think about hidden meanings, messages/morals of the story, and so on, but what would happen if you decided to leave all of those out? If you made your novel funny and entertaining but forgot all about sophisticated literature? If it made people laugh and they wanted to read it, would that be enough for a publisher to pick it up? I'd love to know everyone's opinions on this.

    Just to be clear, this isn't a problem I'm having, I'm just wondering. I make allegories and symbolism a big part of my writing.
     
  2. OurJud
    Offline

    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 21, 2009
    Messages:
    2,028
    Likes Received:
    942
    Location:
    England
    This is a great question and something I've wondered about myself. Having said that, you're not asking quite what I thought you would be, when I read the title.

    I thought the thread would be about writing meandering, plotless novels, where the enjoyment comes not from the twists and turns, but simply from the events that take place. I'm not the world's greatest plotter, and I've often thought how great it would be to just write a 'story' in which you don't have to worry about the relevance of any given scene, and if it's doing anything to drive the plot, because there is no plot.

    Of course Kerouac does precisely this with On the Road, but I think this is an exception. And bare in mind that when asked about Kerouac, Truman Capote famously said, "That's not writing, it's typing." :D

    I dunno, maybe this is what you're asking. Either way it will be interesting to read the replies.
     
    General Daedalus likes this.
  3. Lemex
    Offline

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2007
    Messages:
    10,507
    Likes Received:
    3,151
    Location:
    Northeast England
    It can, but why would you want to just entertain the reader?
     
  4. Aaron DC
    Offline

    Aaron DC Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2015
    Messages:
    2,554
    Likes Received:
    1,251
    Location:
    At my keyboard
    Robbie Williams says, "Yes."

     
  5. OurJud
    Offline

    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 21, 2009
    Messages:
    2,028
    Likes Received:
    942
    Location:
    England
    What an odd question. I thought that was the idea? What else should a work of fiction do?
     
  6. Lemex
    Offline

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2007
    Messages:
    10,507
    Likes Received:
    3,151
    Location:
    Northeast England
    Who says there is an idea to literature?

    Literature do quite a lot: providing a historical document like a lot of Dickens, religious texts like Homer, being a work with a message or opinion relevant to an on-going debate like Orwell, or being a way to work through complex and often philosophical problems using characters to help visualize the number of problems like almost any good literary novel you can name, including Brave New World. Reading for a story that will just entertaining you can at times be dull as all hell. To use just a few examples.
     
  7. daemon
    Offline

    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2014
    Messages:
    1,361
    Likes Received:
    982
    @General Daedalus have you been to a bookstore lately? All you have to do is peruse the shelves to see how many entertaining-but-not-very-sophisticated books get published every year.
     
    Cave Troll and GuardianWynn like this.
  8. General Daedalus
    Offline

    General Daedalus Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2015
    Messages:
    121
    Likes Received:
    45
    Actually you put it very well, either way (without a meaning or without a plot) I think the fact that the reader can simply take enjoyment from whatever happens is quite a novel idea (pardon the pun). It would definitely alleviate a lot of the stress from writing if you didn't have to constantly worry about deviating from your plot.
     
  9. General Daedalus
    Offline

    General Daedalus Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2015
    Messages:
    121
    Likes Received:
    45
    You certainly have a point there, just look at 50 Shades Of Grey. To call EL James a writer is to call Hitler a humanitarian.
     
    Cave Troll likes this.
  10. General Daedalus
    Offline

    General Daedalus Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2015
    Messages:
    121
    Likes Received:
    45
    I'm talking about marketability, though- of course different works have different purposes, but I'm interested in the idea that you can make money off a novel simply based on it's sheer entertainment value. As I said, I'm not actually doing this, I'm just curious whether you could get away with a poorly plotted but entertaining read and actually make some cash out of it.
     
  11. Lemex
    Offline

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2007
    Messages:
    10,507
    Likes Received:
    3,151
    Location:
    Northeast England
    I got that, and of course you can.
     
  12. Duchess-Yukine-Suoh
    Offline

    Duchess-Yukine-Suoh Girl #21 Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2013
    Messages:
    2,319
    Likes Received:
    743
    Location:
    Music Room #3
    Yes, definetly! A lot of my favorite books are just entertaining books! While not all of them might not be exactly seen as "classic", I would say at least half of all books are purely entertaining.
     
  13. OurJud
    Offline

    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 21, 2009
    Messages:
    2,028
    Likes Received:
    942
    Location:
    England
    Quite. I suspect, however, that the best vehicle for such a novel would be humour. That's not to say silly 'gag' humour, but humour that occurs in general day to day life.

    That's why I also believe that a road-trip set-up would lend itself to this type of book perfectly. You could just have two friends (or a bunch of) travelling the country, and report on all the different mishaps and scrapes they get into along the way.
     
  14. General Daedalus
    Offline

    General Daedalus Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2015
    Messages:
    121
    Likes Received:
    45
    Well the novel I'm writing now takes a serious look at social issues in the sixties (racism, chauvinism and so on) but I use a lot of humour to put a likeable face on these offensive behaviours. My protagonist engages in all of these activities, among other addictions, but he's funny, so it takes the edge off them and allows the reader to relate to him. The 'point' in my novel is to show how easy it is to fall into the trap of becoming racist/sexist and following the crowd, and makes them question themselves. The protagonist is an airline pilot- you mentioned a road trip setting, and that's basically the premise of my story, only on a worldwide scale. It gives me many opportunities to have the MCs engage in 'mishaps and scrapes' as you proposed, and so far I've found that it's very easy to come up with many different situations in this setting, especially when you consider that you can have the protagonist end up in any scenario you want. All you have to do is get them there. But apart from the deeper meaning I'm trying to convey, my writing is pretty much what you described above.
     
    OurJud likes this.
  15. OurJud
    Offline

    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 21, 2009
    Messages:
    2,028
    Likes Received:
    942
    Location:
    England
    Go for it!

    Text books are all well and good, but when they're constantly drilling 'rules' into you, such as 'Every scene must be relevant and drive the plot forward.' it can seriously restrict a beginner.

    Take for instance, again, the road-trip idea. You've probably guessed it's a genre I like. I also have a real fascination not only with diners and road side cafes, but with all that those places entail. This means that whenever I'm thinking about writing a road-trip novel, I'm also thinking about scenes where my characters stop at these places; what the place would look like, the food they would order, the small-talk as they eat.

    Any text book would tell you these were pointless scenes, unneeded padding, self-indulgence. But then contradictory to all this, is the advice which states 'Write the book you yourself would like to read.'
     
    General Daedalus likes this.
  16. Solar
    Offline

    Solar Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2011
    Messages:
    538
    Likes Received:
    253
    Yes, and if you ever learn to play guitar, don't bother learning the technique of
    good fretting. Just play how you want. Who cares if your music's full of fret buzz.
     
  17. OurJud
    Offline

    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 21, 2009
    Messages:
    2,028
    Likes Received:
    942
    Location:
    England
    True visionary attitude there. Bravo.
     
  18. Masked Mole
    Offline

    Masked Mole Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2015
    Messages:
    381
    Likes Received:
    284
    I'd say that a novel could probably be just for entertainment, but I have yet to read one like that. Then again, I deeply study all the possible meanings for everything, so maybe that's my fault.
    I don't think I could personally write many works that were only for entertainment. I might have one short story like that, but it's only a page and a half anyway.
     
  19. Lemex
    Offline

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2007
    Messages:
    10,507
    Likes Received:
    3,151
    Location:
    Northeast England
    Who made this a rule?
     
  20. OurJud
    Offline

    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 21, 2009
    Messages:
    2,028
    Likes Received:
    942
    Location:
    England
    Pretty much any text book or teach yourself guide you care to mention.
     
  21. Solar
    Offline

    Solar Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2011
    Messages:
    538
    Likes Received:
    253
    Cheers, mate. It's always nice to be valued.
     
  22. Lemex
    Offline

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2007
    Messages:
    10,507
    Likes Received:
    3,151
    Location:
    Northeast England
    Don't listen to them, they are mostly utter doggerel.
     
  23. peachalulu
    Offline

    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    May 20, 2012
    Messages:
    3,829
    Likes Received:
    2,382
    Location:
    occasionally Oz , mainly Canada
    Yes. As a fan of old 80's horror fiction there was nothing deep about 90% of these stories. They were just thrilling or unintentionally amusing. Created to entertain and thrill. One of the authors I love(d), Ruby Jean Jensen, was an older woman who grew up telling her children spooky stories and I think someone suggested she write them down and she did. Voila - a career.

    As a writer though I would like to combine both - I'd love to be entertaining and thought provoking. I love using symbolism, deep layers, and themes. It's not something any author needs to do, it's a choice.
     
    Renee J likes this.
  24. OurJud
    Offline

    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 21, 2009
    Messages:
    2,028
    Likes Received:
    942
    Location:
    England
    Okay, so in your view, what would be the purpose of a scene which has no relevance to the plot?

    Not trying to catch you out here, just interested.
     
  25. Lemex
    Offline

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2007
    Messages:
    10,507
    Likes Received:
    3,151
    Location:
    Northeast England
    It can act to set the mood, or more importantly reveal character - or just be the set up to a joke like a lot of P.G. Wodehouse.

    I don't believe in writing guides and rule books, Homer didn't need one, Virgil, Dante, Shakespeare, Milton, and anyone else you care to name didn't need one. All they needed was their talent and their intelligence, and their familiarity with the conventions. The great books are the only guide books to writing you'll ever need as far as I can tell.
     
    OurJud and BrianIff like this.

Share This Page