The Meaning of Life

Blog | | Tuesday, May 6, 2014
It is the readers who decide what is quality fiction. It is readers who decide what will be classics or not.

All fiction says something about life’s meaning.

Photographer: Adam Jones, Ph.D.

Photographer: Adam Jones, Ph.D.

“Hey, wait a minute,” I can hear you saying. “What about [insert book here]!”

Hold on. I know when we discuss message and theme, there is a variety of opinions both on whether that is good for the author to put one in there and how an author can do that well. That’s not what I’m talking about here.

As a reader, all fiction will say something to you about life, whether the author intended it to or not, and often not what the author intended.

So you might point to book X that is simply a rip, roaring fun tale, with no message or theme overtly inherent in the plot or characters. It might not mention God or religion at all, much less attempt to touch upon more literary themes and meanings.

I can guarantee you, when readers read that only-for-fun novel, they will pick up on themes and meanings. Even if those meanings are shallow, or the reader is not in agreement with what they see.

The Meaning of Life

The Meaning of Life

That’s happened to me. My Reality Chronicles series is decidedly Christian fiction. I’ve intentionally incorporated themes and meanings into the stories. Some people pick up on them, some don’t, some find meanings I had not considered.

Yet, my Virtual Chronicles series is just plain general market, let’s tell a fun story, book. God is not mentioned, religion plays a very minor role, and it isn’t Christian. I went into those stories with no intention to make a point or accomplish anything more than tell a good yarn.

Despite that, I noticed a theme of trust and loyalty popping up frequently. Then readers got a hold of it and reviewed it, they saw meanings I hadn’t even considered.

Any story will communicate values and meaning.

It generally isn’t a question of whether it will or not, but whether the meaning conveyed is significant to the reader. The more meaningful it is, the more it emotionally moves the reader—the more memorable the story will be.

Classics became classics not merely because it was an engaging story, but because it said something of significance to a lot of people.

Readers might not even think in those terms. They only know the story affected them deeply. It meant a lot to them because what it said about life—their life—illustrated through the story.

So often when we talk about themes and meanings, we only look at what the author intentionally or subconsciously puts into a story. That is all well and good, but it is the readers who have the final say on a story’s meaning and depth.

It is the readers who decide what is quality fiction. It is readers who decide what will be classics or not.

Increasing the quality of Christian speculative fiction is in your hands, reader, by what you read and what you talk about with friends and fans.

So go out there and vote by reading and promoting the stories that speak to you. Write a review and submit it here at SpecFaith. If enough other readers agree with you, you may have helped unveil a classic.

What stories have affected you in a good way? Tell us about it. That is how quality fiction rises to the top.

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As a young teen, R. L. Copple played in his own make-believe world, writing the stories and drawing the art for his own comics while experiencing the worlds of other authors like Tolkien, Lewis, Asimov, and Lester Del Ray. As an adult, after years of writing devotionally, he returned to the passion of his youth in order to combine his fantasy worlds and faith into the reality of the printed page. Since then, his imagination has given birth to The Reality Chronicles trilogy from Splashdown Books, and Mind Game, Hero Game, Ethereal Worlds Anthology, and How to Make an Ebook: Using Free Software from Ethereal Press, along with numerous short stories in various magazines. In his Texas Hill Country residence, he continues to create and give wings to new realities so that others might enjoy and be inspired by them. Learn more about R. L and his work at any of the following: Author Website, Author Blog, or Author Store.

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2 responses

  1. All fiction says something about life’s meaning.

    If only Fiction could get its crap together and make those sayings more cohesive….

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    • If only Fiction could get its crap together and make those sayings more cohesive….

      It does say something cohesive. Life says, “there’s not plot!” But all fiction says, “there’s a plot!!!”

       

      Even nihilistic fiction about how plotless life is has a plot, because in order to show how meaningless life is, you need structure. (I guess meaninglessness = some kind of meaning)

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