Tuesday 22 August 2017

Philosophers and Entertainers

[This Chapter,]‘Saying everything’, argues that contemporary fiction matters because it is how we work out who we are now, today. The novel is the best way of doing this. Of all the arts, the novel is the most thoughtful, the closest, and the most personal. It can be about anything, and can take any form or forms it chooses. The novel, like the human species, is now global and the form is still coming to terms with this deep and recent change.
I had cause to read the first chapter of this terrific series recently and the above passage started me thinking: Why do I write novels?

I don't think that when I write I am consciously trying to work out who I am, and it sure ain't for the glamour. I write to entertain; mostly myself, but also the audience, the readers. I want someone to have the experience I have had when reading - staying up past 1am to finish a book, falling slowing in love with the characters, and mourning them when the book is over.

So perhaps there are two schools of writers: the ones who work out 'who we are' and the people who write for the kicks. I call them the Philosophers and the Entertainers.

Philosophers: These authors write from the heart and their raison d'etre is to find out something about the characters, themselves, or the human race in general. Their primary focus is on finding the 'truth' in a novel. They are content in an unhappy/unsatisfactory event in a story as long as it is 'true'.

Entertainers: These are the raconteurs, the old storytellers who would retell a tale by the campfire, driven on by the reactions of their audience. Their primary goal is to elicit thrills, empathy, romance or rage in their readers, depending on their chosen genre.

Which are you? Let me know in the comments.


Andrew Preston said...

Perhaps you're more philosophically inclined then you think.

Stroppy Author said...

Philosopher. But this - 'They are content in an unhappy/unsatisfactory event in a story as long as it is 'true' - is totally wrong. The integrity of the story is still vital. And it's not as binary as you suggest; Boccaccio had this to say about story-telling:
'There was never a maundering old woman, sitting with others late of a winter's night at the home fireside, making up tales of Hell, the fates, Ghosts and the like … but did not feel there was a grain of truth in them.'
Books are banned and writers persecuted because of that truth, surely?