By Cassia Schaar
Until a few months ago, I had know idea that there were two categories that all fictional novels fit into.
The first type is Escape Literature. The primary focus of these novels is to entertain the readers. I’m pretty sure that most books these days fall under this category…or least the ones that I read and write. The authors of this type of fiction are interested in an obvious and immediate response. For example: if a character dies, they’re hoping the readers feel sorrow (or joy if it’s the antagonist) and if two lovers finally get together, they want people to feel elation towards the event.
“Yah they’re finally together! They were made for each other!”
There’s not really a deep meaning to a death or a couple getting together. When an event like that happens in my stories, I don’t really think of them as symbolic to anything. But interpretive fiction writers do.
Interpretive literature is meant to expand life awareness and to communicate truths of human existence. It also is used to illuminate some aspect of life and to understand life situations. So when someone dies, maybe they symbolize the fall of a society.
Pretty much every book that you read in school for a novel study will be interpretive rather than escape. These types of books make you think. Most biographies are interpretive non-fiction as the person the story is about discovers something that changes their life, creating a dominant theme in the story.
But this doesn’t mean that escape novels don’t have a theme; they do; every novel has a theme. But let’s take a look at the difference between themes in interpretive and escape stories. I did some research on some popular books in both categories and found some of their dominate ideas.
The Hunger Games
-The inequality between the rich and poor
-Suffering for entertainment
-The importance of appearances
-Physical and self Isolation
-The dangers of totalitarianism
-Control of Information and History
-Language as mind control
-Escaping the world through death
-Importance of human emotion
-The dangers of stability and predictability
-The relationship between memories and wisdom
See the difference?
Once I figured all this out I was actually pretty disappointed with myself for reading and writing more escape fiction than interpretive. I want people to read my books and not only enjoy them, but ask questions while they read. I really do want symbols in my novel and I want to show people a new perspective on life. Sure it’s going to be more work, but it will be completely worth it.
The key is, to read a lot of interpretive fiction (and non-fiction) so that you can write it easily. Of course everyone says that but I guess it just goes to show how important it is!
What do you read and write more of? Escape or Interpretive literature?