General Question

flutherother's avatar

Why do people write novels?

Asked by flutherother (31940points) 1 month ago

And what purpose do they serve in the modern world.

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24 Answers

SQUEEKY2's avatar

Purely entertainment for the reader.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

For fun. Also to raise the next generation.

janbb's avatar

Because they have a story they want to tell and if there is a desire for publication, because they think there is an audience that will want to read it.

One of the main purposes they serve in the modern world is to combat loneliness and create empathy for other people and/or cultures.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

Also to improve writing style and fluency. Also to share one’s experiences. I would love one day to get the motivation, and ability, to rewrite textbooks for fun to keep the frustration down a notch to the next reader.

I would like the fillers to be removed from books and replaced by concentrated knowledge; To improve readability and effectively and efficiently.

Inspired_2write's avatar

To leave a legacy for their decendants.
Especially a true account of our times.

Zaku's avatar

“And what purpose do they serve in the modern world.”
– What do you mean?
– Why do you think people create any kind of art?
– What do you think “the modern world” is, such that novels would no longer be worthwhile?

Are you thinking “I have an app for that, and in the modern world everyone has a smart phone, and LOVES modern video entertainment because it’s so great, like Marvel movies, so why art?” or what?

smudges's avatar

I guess for the same reason people climb Mt. Everest, raft down the snake river, go on a safari, etc. For the challenge, for the pure exhilaration of succeeding, to make a name for themselves – to have done something epic in their life.

Demosthenes's avatar

A lot of good answers so far. People write novels to express themselves, to address issues they want to address (either personal issues or those much larger in scale), to entertain, to enlighten, to explore new worlds, to escape, to plumb life’s deep questions, to challenge themselves, to accomplish something. And to be honest, I think all these reasons are why people read them too.

I write fiction myself. Never attempted to publish. For the most part I write for myself, but I have shared some of my work with a limited group of people and having them respond to it and engage with it and be interested in it is something special. I write because I come up with a story I think is interesting and want to see where it goes (often don’t know where it’s going when I start). The sense of accomplishment is a reward, but so is creating something that others respond to and engage with. In a world of consumption, there’s something to be said for creation.

mazingerz88's avatar

To avail of the human capacity to imagine, sustaining and nourishing that very capacity.

kritiper's avatar

For something to do, to tell a story, and/or make some money.

acroyear137's avatar

I think to be creative and to express themselves if they are writing in an artistic sense.

JLoon's avatar

Because people read novels.

SnipSnip's avatar

Because they have words in their head that must get out.

flutherother's avatar

@Zaku I don’t think apps and videos have replaced novels and I was asking why that should be. What is it about novel writing and reading that remains so relevant? I was just asking your personal opinion.

dabbler's avatar

Begs the question, do you Not read novels?
If you read novels (and presumably enjoy them) you know why people write novels I think.
Novels can create deep spaces to explore thoughts and experiences, and share them in ways no other medium seems to be able to.

Zaku's avatar

@flutherother I’m just taken aback that someone would frame the question this way. “Remains so relevant”?

Do you also wonder why people still paint and draw, when they could use a camera? Do you question other art forms?

I feel like you must have never experienced appreciation of a good novel, to be writing such questions. Perhaps I’m out of touch with how many people may have never had that experience?

Some professors say that to fully understand the entirety of a single great book would be the equivalent of an entire education.

My opinion, is that good novels have no competition as a form, at what they do. Humans have not invented another way to present an artful and enjoyable exploration of the human condition in the same ways that masterfully written stories do.

There are also various other attractions, even for pulp fiction. Many people enjoy reading stories in text, for various reasons. One of which is that the reader controls the pace of digestion, and a reader can easily glance back. Another is the reader’s ability to use their own mind’s eye and imagination to visualize and flesh out the scenes. Compared to, say, video or even live drama, the reader is entirely free to contemplate whatever they like, without having to keep up with what’s the drama is doing in real time. Not to mention the frequently flawed performances and other negative aspects of films, which a reader’s imagination can fill in as they please. Novels can present the feelings and thinking of characters in different ways than video performances can. So too for exposition and back-story. Books also don’t need multi-million-dollar budgets. Written fiction also includes various devices that are not present in other forms, such as the many possible devices of wording and narrative. Etc. Etc.

flutherother's avatar

@Zaku Why assume someone has no interest in writing or art just because they ask questions about it. Anyway I appreciate you taking the time to give me the kind of thoughtful answer I was looking for.

dabbler's avatar

@flutherother You did not just “ask questions about it.” Your question and following, “what purpose do they serve” suggest you do not think they serve a purpose. Expect some reaction to that.

katewilliams's avatar

As it is widely spoken of, art is one prime means to express and writing novels is one way to do it. I feel writing has to do with feeling one with the community and making sure they are aware of some gaps that need tackling. It is one of the few ways to make a mass of people aware of the circumstances that they might not know about.
My personal favourite is fiction because it has metaphors smartly included in a way that it comes back to real life.
So my answer is that people write novels to make the mass aware of the gaps that their community might have.

Zaku's avatar

@flutherother “Why assume someone has no interest in writing or art just because they ask questions about it.”
– Because a question about “why” one would write, let alone one about what their “purpose” is in “the modern world”, strongly implies to me the asker doesn’t already know many good answers to that question, which I feel they would, if they had understanding and appreciation of literature.

The wording of a question is the start of a conversation, and if that question starts in in a bizarre place, it seems to me answers probably ought to start there and address that first.

If an answer ignores the assumptions of the question, it may seem to accept those assumptions.

flutherother's avatar

@Zaku Or, perhaps the asker is playing “devil’s advocate”.

Zaku's avatar

I’m sure you were, but I’m still going to respond to such a question that way, because I think that’s the appropriate kind of response to that sort of question.

I also feel like questions written from a weird context are problematic (regardless of the author’s actual perspective), particularly when there are actually people who think and say such things, because it tends to normalize and encourage those people to repeat those conversations.

And, I think one of the major challenges of “the modern world” you referred to, is dealing with the many off-base conversations that gain momentum in online discussions. The main way I see to make a difference there, is to speak up when an off-base conversation comes my way.

Zissou's avatar

Why indeed? The novel is an exhausted art form. But there is still money to be made by rehashing the same old themes to pander to the preoccupations of the current generation. Old wine in new wineskins.

For a very different answer, read Joseph Conrad’s preface to ‘The N****r of the Narcissus’ (and if you can’t get past the title, you prove my point).

flutherother's avatar

@Zissou I have only read the preface, but I’m glad the grit of my question brought forth such a pearl of an answer.

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