Last Monday night I had the opportunity to attend a writer’s workshop in Tempe, AZ hosted by Pamela Slim. She’s the author of Escape From the Cubicle Nation and among the different topics she discussed included Publishing: Self-publishing vs. Traditional publication and creating a writer’s platform. We even separated into groups to discuss our current writing projects and share our ideas of our target audience.
The one question, though, that stuck in my head that evening was: What is the purpose of your book? I had never considered this question. Given that I’m a fictional writer, I always assumed that I was writing for the pure entertainment of my readers.
Others, who were writing non-fiction, could answer this question rather easily. Self-help books to help others in whatever subject that they were writing. Even historical fiction had the advantage of answering the question by sharing knowledge of previous events that most would not know anything about. So there I sat with this question before me.
As it turns out the question was easy to answer since the background of my main character created the answer. You can find that background on Jarryd McCallen here. My goal for Jarryd was to have him serve a thirty-day work furlough in a local tavern as penance and rehabilitation and by the end of the story; he decides that instead of a life of crime, he would join the side of the law and become a town guard.
The purpose of my book then is to show that regardless of your upbringing and the wrongs you may have done in the past; you can make a change for the better and become a success if you apply your mind to it.
I went home from the workshop feeling fulfilled in addition to making friends with some local writers. The next morning I had a breakthrough with my story. I finally figure out who would be my antagonist.
For that last couple of years or so I had been having trouble with creating a suitable antagonist for Jarryd. I thought a rival thief or member of a rival guild, or even the tavern owner himself but none of them worked. Since I came up with the purpose of my book, and knowing Jarryd’s past, the antagonist was staring me in the face the entire time, Captain Bradstreet of the Manzana Gran Town Patrol. Since he was the one to give Jarryd his first arrest and jail sentence, who better to be his antagonist? He visits the tavern every morning for a meal before starting his daily duties, what better way to keep tabs on Jarryd?
So as you can see, fictional writers can have a purpose for their novel besides entertainment. You can teach and encourage your readers through the actions of your MC and the people they encounter.
Now I ask you, what is the purpose of your book? Feel free to comment below. Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog which is updated every Monday. Plus you can follow me on both Facebook and Twitter.