Now that I’m back to writing fiction regularly, I’ve had the opportunity to think over what I’m actually trying to achieve with it, and I’ve come up with a nice succinct little phrase that I think sums it up perfectly:
Pulp with purpose.
It means that I must never lose sight of the fact that I am an entertainer first and foremost. My books and stories are meant to be fun, and if the reader isn’t enjoying themselves, I haven’t done my job.
It means that I embrace colourful settings, full of magic and power, wonder and terror; larger than life, inspiring heroes; and intense, unabashedly unrealistic action.
Because reality is boring, and the world doesn’t need anymore stories where everything is brown and everyone is a jerk.
But it also means that I understand the best stories are those that not only entertain, but also uplift, educate, and enlighten. It means that what I write must be a reflection of my values, and that I must always re-examine those values to ensure that they’re right ones. It means my stories have to say something.
It means, also, that I understand that representation matters, and that as many as people as possible should feel welcome and see themselves reflected in the worlds I have created.
Above all, it means that I seek the balance between those two forces. The stories that I tell have to be both escapism and carry some deeper value. If I neglect either angle, I will fail. If my stories have no message, then I’ve betrayed my values. If they’re not fun to read, no one will bother with them.
That’s the ideal, anyway, but of course I can’t claim that I have always or will always perfectly live up to it. I definitely haven’t done a great job walking the walk when it comes to representation, for example, though I am working to improve that.
If nothing else, it gives me a clear vision of what the goal is.
And a good slogan.
I like slogans.