Literary Fiction on Contemplation as the Goal

by Cristina H
(Dover, NH )

Question: I suppose the genre will most likely be a Literary Fiction since the focus is on philosophical questions. Can you suggest some works/books where Contemplation may be the Goal? Thank you so much, your website is a great resource especially for someone like me. I am just starting to nurture the desire to write my true life story, but since most events are so complex bordering unfathomable, I intend to use Literary Fiction.

Answer: Offhand, there are not a lot of stories with contemplation as the overall story goal, at least in the way Dramatica defines the term. These would be stories in which everyone is concerned about discovering the right way to think about an issue, or perhaps affected by whether a person in power can learn to evaluate issues in the best way.

One example that comes to mind, though not literary fiction, would be the science fiction film, I, Robot. In this story, robots and computers are given a core command that says they must proactively prevent human beings from coming to harm.

The problem is that a super-advanced computer thinks about this command and realizes the only way to carry it out is to stop humans from harming each other, which means it has to take over the world and turn it into a giant prison in which humans have no freedom. (The computer also decides that achieving this goal is worth the cost of harming some humans along the way.)

The story goal is to
have the robots learn to weigh these issues differently, which is achieved by creating a robot with compassion. This new robot has a second processing unit, or "heart" that tells it that taking away freedom is also a type of harm. Thanks to his "heart," the new robot can weigh the issues in a different, more balanced way and reject the supercomputer's conclusions.

An example of a story in which the main character's personal concern (not the overall concern) is one of contemplation is the YA novel, The Fault in Our Stars. In this book, the main character, Hazel-Grace, expects to die of cancer at a young age. She struggles with the challenge of how to live a meaningful life under these circumstances.

Initially, she adopts the cold-blooded realistic stance that says we live in an uncaring universe where death is inevitable and life is ultimately meaningless. The trouble is, she can't live her life from that stance and so becomes withdrawn and depressed.

The alternative presented to her is blind optimism, in the form of a boyfriend who is determined that his life will have meaning despite all the evidence to the contrary (he's also dying of cancer).

Eventually, Hazel-Grace learns to reconcile these two stances by embracing the idea that there can be "smaller infinities," and choosing to see her life as one of them. In other words, she learns to live in the moment, as if that moment were infinite and despite knowing that her life is limited.

Hope that helps.

Click here to post comments

Join in and submit your own question/topic! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Genre Invite.

search this site the web
search engine by freefind

Celebrating our 2nd year as one of the...

 Step-by-Step Novel Planning Workbook

NEW! Make Money Writing Nonfiction Articles

"I've read more than fifty books on writing, writing novels, etc., but your website has the most useful and practical guidance. Now that I understand how a novel is structured, I will rewrite mine, confident that it will be a more interesting novel." - Lloyd Edwards

"Thanks to your "Create a Plot Outline in 8 Easy Steps," I was able to take a story that I simply just fooled around with and went willy nilly all over, into a clearly defined, intriguing battle where two characters fight to keep their relationship intact, and try to find a balance in control of themselves and their lives. Thanks to you, I'm not ashamed of the poor organization of my writing." - Nommanic Ragus

"I am so glad I found your site. It has helped me in so many ways, and has given me more confidence about myself and my work. Thank you for making this valuable resource, for me and my fellow writers. Perhaps you'll hear about me someday...I'll owe it to you." - Ruth, Milton, U.S.A.

"I never knew what to do with all the characters in my head, but since discovering Dramatica I am writing again in my spare time. Thank you for making this available. Yes, it is a bit complex, and it does take time, but I love it because it works." - Colin Shoeman

"I came across your website by chance. It is a plethora of knowledge, written in a simplistic way to help aspiring writers. I truly appreciate all of the information you have provided to help me successfully (relative term) write my novel. Thank you very much!" - Leo T. Rollins

"I can honestly say that this is the first website that is really helpful. You manage to answer complex questions in relatively short articles and with really intelligent answers. Thank you for taking the time to write these articles and sharing them so generously." - Chrystelle Nash

"...had no idea that a simple click would give me such a wealth of valuable information. The site not only offered extremely clear and helpful instructions but was a very enjoyable read as well. The education from your wonderful site has made me a better writer and your words have inspired me to get back to work on my novel. I wish to give you a heartfelt thanks for How to Write a Book Now, sir." -- Mike Chiero