How useful are the words we write? Do we expect the fictional words we write to be helpful to our readers?
I fully understand part of our job (maybe the primary job) is to provide entertainment. In fiction, many times, that includes helping our reader escape from their current circumstances. When I was growing up, this was one of my primary reasons for reading. It wasn't that my life was that difficult but I found books to be a safe place to which I could escape. Providing that safe place can be pivotal in a young person's life.
As writers we want to challenge our readers not only with a rich vocabulary and dynamite worldbuilding. We want to challenge their ideas, how they perceive their place in the real world and stretch them beyond their comfort zones. Lofty goals? Perhaps.
If our stories don't serve a useful purpose, do we still call it a success? Do we write with a specific purpose in mind? I'm not talking about lecturing the reader but engaging them fully in life. Please share your thoughts.