Thursday, November 20, 2008

What Kids Want

Considering my recent post (rant) about the classification of ages of characters, I thought this post by literary agent Kate Schafer to be rather timely. She basically points out that while there is a place for "literary fiction," there's certainly a place for genre fiction, too, and there's a difference.

... I preferred commercial fiction to literary, because in commercial fiction, the primary focus is the STORY, with beginning, middle, and satisfying end, not just a beautiful collection of words on paper without meaningful direction.

I want pace. I want adventure. I want romance. I want a story.

... If you want kids to read it, then you better make sure there's a driving story.


Which sums up my thoughts on this well. Kate's client, Catherine Cheek, added to the discussion with this post on her blog:

Fiction's primary purpose, first and foremost, is to entertain. If it says something fascinating and timeless about the human condition, that's fantastic, but first it should entertain. Stories should be about interesting people. There should be a conflict; the conflict should be resolved.

This does make me re-think my recent post on gimmicks. I got caught up in the idea of whether or not a gimmick reduces the literary quality of the book--but as long as the gimmick isn't the entire book, and as long as the book serves the primary purpose of entertainment--who cares?

9 comments:

Christine M said...

Like anyone else, kids want a great story. If gimmicks help them get there - then great! And I just gave you an award. :)

lotusloq said...

I'm enjoying your blog immensely! We agree on so many things. I'm so glad you stopped by and commented on mine so I could find yours.

I agree that kids require the STORY drive the book. They won't put up with a book that drones on and on. I think it's more than just what kids want though. I wrote a blog a while back: "Why can't reading just be fun." In a time when the publishing industry is worried about fewer and fewer people reading, I think that should be their message. I think a lot more people would be reading if they had the experience/idea that reading is fun. Maybe they'd pick up a book instead of turning on the TV or going to the movies once in a while.

Tabitha said...

"Fiction's primary purpose, first and foremost, is to entertain."

I wholeheartedly agree. I think many writer wannabe's forget about that. They think it's all about them, and it's not. Not even close. Its about your reader, and giving him a story that he will love so much he'll want to keep reading.

Gottawrite Girl said...

Hmmm. I want it all, lyricism AND a rip roaring story. : ) And love those gimmicks! I hope I'm never too "serious" to be above what helps!!

beth said...

Lotuslog: I'm so glad that you like the blog! And I agree entirely--reading should just be FUN!

Tabitha: Yup!

GWG: I do honestly care more about the rip-roaring-ness of the story than the lyricism, but having both does make it better.

PJ Hoover said...

Every day it dawns on me more and more that our primary job is to entertain. It's so true!

keri mikulski :) said...

Entertainment is the reason to read. :) To escape. Absolutely true.

adrienne said...

I guess you can hope something is both literary and entertaining, but if you have to choose between the two...it has to be entertaining!

beth said...

PJ and Keri: I am learning this, too...entertainment and escapism trump all!

Adrienne: I agree--entertainment does rank higher.