Realism or Escapist Entertainment?

Ever know someone who can’t just let themselves enjoy a book or movie? “That movie is just completely implausible and unrealistic,” they say. “But it’s about alien robots!” you respond. Not everything has to be dead serious. Can you write purely for entertainment?

We have examined how a writer can be entertaining and thoughtful, about writing with your own voice and readers misunderstanding your book. These are all important considerations to a writer, but can he or she write more for pure entertainment? Sure they can.

Ultimately, an author’s beliefs or views come out somewhere in a book, but they don’t even have to be the central theme – or a theme at all. Think of all the barely plausible thrillers, and the movies that come from them such as 007, and how entertaining they are. Edgar Rice Burroughs nearly invented the swashbuckling “man finds himself in alien world/culture and must survive one peril after another to get the (native) girl in the end” scenario. He used the archetype in nearly every book he wrote, but through changing the details and characters he made each an original, breathless read.

Sure, his books weren’t without comments on society and such, but for the immersive reader they are the perfect escape. An immersive reader disappears into a book and doesn’t analyze or critique or try to figure it out. They want to be pulled in and, if the writer is good, the reader will catch whatever themes and messages work their way into the story. There’s nothing wrong with starting with a message, so long as it is organically delivered. However, most authors are seeking to tell a story first and foremost. Some may be doing so for pure escapism. Robert Adams writes at the start of his Horseclans series:

The following tale is a fantasy, pure and simple. It is a flight of sheer imagination. It contains no hidden meanings and none should be read into it…rather, [this is] intended for the enjoyment of any man or woman who has ever felt a twinge of that atavistic urge to draw a yard of sharp, flashing steel and with a wild war cry recklessly spur a vicious stallion against impossible odds.

It’s your story. Have a little fun.

Categories: Books, Fiction, Writing | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

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One thought on “Realism or Escapist Entertainment?

  1. Pingback: Hunt for Adventure | Darrick Dean

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