Does a Story Need a Purpose?

I’ve always been under the impression that a book or story is driven by an underlying message or purpose.  Perhaps the author wants to send the message that a hero can be big or small, brave or afraid, just as long as they do what is right.  Or perhaps the author wants to say that good always triumphant in the end.  Regardless, I’ve always thought this message was important.  I also love that fantasy often has the ability to send a message without making the reader feel as if they are being beaten over the head with it.  But recently, I’ve read a few really great stories and books that seemed to have no purpose or message at all.

Rather than being frustrated with these stories and books, they got me thinking, does a story really need a message or a purpose?  If, for example, an author can write an interesting story, but the reader gets to the end of it and asks, “what was the point?” is that perfectly fine?

Also, if you get to end of a story, and you aren’t really sure what the author was trying to say because they leave too many unanswered questions, is that a good thing or a bad thing?  I feel a bit frustrated as a reader when I read an amazing book, reach the end, and still don’t feel like I got most of my questions answers.  But then, I understand that leaving things for the reader to answer for themselves can have its benefits.


About lisamorrowbooks

Lisa Morrow is a life-long reader who treasures fantasy in all forms. Being a middle child in a large family gave her a unique perspective on the world, but few experiences compare to her time spent studying abroad in Cambridge, England and wandering throughout Europe. After her travels, Lisa settled down in Arizona to teach junior high English, and later, to spend time with her young children, husband, and cats. To some people, her life may seem quiet. But to her, every day is spent in a world colored by the imagination of children, and fantastical worlds created by her very own mind.
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