Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Let me entertain you.

Continuing my look at links I found while buried in writing challenge fic, Cindy R. Wilson had an interesting discussion here about books that move us versus books that entertain us and the value/credit we assign to those books. I found it interesting not only on its own, but in its relationship to my own writing.

As I’ve said before, I write dark. And I always look for a theme and some kind of layers and threads in my storytelling that can be interwoven into a greater whole. For me, Cormac McCarthy's The Road is a perfect example of this.

For me, the two concepts of value and entertainment are so intertwined as to be inextricable. But even if my own work is somewhat less or fails on either front, I'm not sure this is an either/or proposition. I still believe books that move people can be books that entertain. And vice versa.

Or maybe that’s just me. How do you write? To move or entertain? Is one more valuable or deserving of credit? What do you think? Is it either/or?


  1. Good Question. I've always enjoyed books that entertain more because generally books that move me make me cry. (I am so Hyper sensitive it's stupid.) However having said that, I do read them and keep them on my shelf.

    As a writer, I write books to entertain. In Masquerade I think as I get toward the end there are one or three moving "scenes" that still make me cry. But that I think is intrinsic to me if a book is a good book or failure, if they can make me cry.

    Forgive my rambling here but it is rather early.

  2. No rambling here, my dear, but it is early and we could both probably use another cup of coffee. :) Entertainment is good in both reading and writing, and I think there is inherent value in that. You have certainly written things that entertain me. And now I also have to say, having read your scene over at your blog, you certainly can write something that will move me as well. :)

  3. Because I almost always write memoir I hope to arouse my readers' emotions.

  4. Hi, Amy. You are so fearless in your writing I can't imagine not feeling your words on any number of levels. They always provoke a response. And I mean that in the very best way. I always feel honored when I read your work that you've chosen to share your words with us.

  5. Tell a good story. It's up to the reader's subjectivity to determine what happens with it.

  6. Excellent question! I'm hoping that my books will cause people to stop and think about what they believe. Or about their lives. Or if the characters made the right choice and what they would do if it were them. :)

  7. Hi, Jeff. I think you nailed it. Story is all important. The reader and the perspective/baggage they bring to the experience varies and colors how they see what's written. :)

    Hi, Elana. Thank you and welcome. I think that's exactly what I hope with my writing. That I will touch something common in our shared experiences and that will move them.

  8. I don't think that deep content and entertainment are subject to a either/or situation: maybe in today's world the term "entertainment" has taken a limited meaning - the lighter, more superficial interpretation of it.

    Darkness can be as "entertaining" as light, as long as we are swept away by words, carried to a different place, time, whatever. When we forget the rest, the author has done a good job.

    And we are grateful :-)

  9. Hey, Nym. I think you're right. Today entertainment has almost taken on a dirty word type connotation in some people's minds. I like to be entertained, swept away by words and images, and again you are right. When an author has done their job well, that is exactly what happens. We lose ourselves in the moment. And for that I am always extremely grateful. :)

  10. Both sometimes. But, my novel trilogy is intended to move the reader. To inform, and hopefully make them have an emotional response; a connection tot he MC. I write short stories for entertainment value.

    I'm the same type reader though. Sometimes I just want to be entertained, to read a good book and forget everything. But I'm mostly addicted to drama in any genre. I've read some very entertaining books with a moral platform also, though none come to mind at the exact moment.

    A good writer can accomplish whatever response they're looking for. So I guess my answer to your question is: it depends on my mood at the time I'm either writing, or reading.


  11. A good writer can accomplish whatever response they're looking for. So I guess my answer to your question is: it depends on my mood at the time I'm either writing, or reading.

    I think that is a great way of looking at it. Neither either/or, but whatever needs be at the time.