Thursday, October 8, 2009

Watching... books???

I'm gonna try to make this short and to the point, coz the power keeps going on a nd off at my end and that leaves me with a little window to get it all done. Yikes - how do I write short and to the point?

Hmm, maybe if I just related what I saw. You know, like you're watching a movie and it's a blow-by-blow visual of what's happening on the screen to the story. That'd be perfect, right? I'd be able to cover everything, innit?

Wrong! This is a blog about writing, and this means I gotta write.

That's where it seems a lot of writers are going wrong lately - they write a story with the same viewspan and attention span as watching TV or a movie. It's like, you watch a movie, get it? Start, middle, end, you show what's taking place in the story. There you go - story written!

Sure you go. You've written a story with start, middle, end and it even holds the line! But wait a second too - you're giving me the movie version, not the book one!

I'll take an example. Twilight movie v/s Twilight book. Each has start, middle, end, the same story, same people, same setting, same plot, same whatever. Where's the difference then?

This is what's different - I watch the movie while I read the book. Not making sense? Okay - the book gives you an addtional layer to the movie version, because you are not seeing the characters but you are the characters!

That's why you cannot 'watch' a book, you need to read it. Reading means you open a total different world for the reader, one where it's almost a virtual reality simulation without the gadgets coz the reader uses his brain as the simulator and your words as the connection.

Still not making much sense? Okay, let's try another approach. How many times have we as writers heard this line - show, don't tell! It's almost become a mantra that switches on automatically when we get to the keyboard. But how much are you really showing?

Bear in mind the virtual reality simulation again. You need to show something to your writer. Say, for example, your heroine is angry after a tiff with her lover. So, in show and don't tell mode, you go - Megan fumed inside, and as she went out, banged the door behind her.

Made your point, innit? She's so angry she bangs the door. You showed! Actually, no. Sorry to burst your bubble, but you didn't show me this. You gave me a visual, which is basically what one would watch in a movie. But in the movie, you'd see the expression on the actress playing Megan's face. You'd see her bunch her fists maybe, bite her lip extra hard, stomp her heel. Where have you shown this in the above line?

Also, is this door-banging in character with her? What makes her bang the door? Exasperation that her man is taking her for granted/brushed her off again? Is it completely unrelated, as in this tiff with him not understanding that he needs to pick his socks off the floor, is it simply the drop that made the vase overflow? Is she maybe feeling irritated by everything and nothing because it's a hormonal time for her?

All of this you would give your reader to connect with if you showed not just her movements but what's in her head too.

And this is the difference between watching movies and reading books. You watch a character on the screen, whereas you relate from the character's POV in the book. You become her, you experience what she is feeling, it's a virtual reality simulation for you!

You can call this Deep POV; you can call this being in her shoes; you can call this TMI, but this showing part is definitely lacking in books nowadays. If we wanted to watch a movie, we'd watch a movie. Where's the thrill in reading, in being taken to that other world with all your senses involved (not just eyes and ears), that reading is supposed to give a reader?

Remember that this connection lies in your hand, you the writer. It has to flow from your pen, to be able to whisk your reader away. Otherwise, why bother to read your work when he/she can watch a movie?

Any questions or comments, feel free to holler!

Aasiyah Qamar - Cultural Romantic Fiction, With a Twist
Available Now!! - Light My World - Eirelander Publishing
Nolwynn Ardennes - The Promise of Fulfilment
Coming out January 8, 2010 - Storms in a Shot Glass - Eirelander Publishing
Coming out July 2, 2010 - Walking on the Edge - Eirelander Publishing

Aasiyah Qamar/Nolwynn Ardennes - Romance the world over


Diana Castilleja said...

Damn girl. Do you have to make feel guilty this early in the morning? The very first blog I read? *Kicks stones*

*sigh* I totally understand what you're saying. I'm actually going back through some older titles for rerelease, adding this exact thing to them. I think in the rush to please editors and publishers for quantity, we forget to actually "tell" the story, skimming them for the meat of the plot.

I have stories that suffered for it, and I know I've read some.

Julia Smith said...

I think the reader's Deep POV is what kills film versions of books for so many readers. The actual actress can never compete with the personal version who lives in so many individual minds and hearts.

Sandy said...

Deep pov is difficult to do, but I'm trying. Smile.

You hit the problem of writing on the head.

Z(Aasiyah/Nolwynn) said...

Hey ladies

Glad the post made sense! I so wanted to get this through I wondered if it wasn't just a jumble.

Diana - poor darling. I'm sorry, didn't want to make you feel guilty this early! And lol, no need to feel guilty, darlin. It's something we all fall victim to every now and then, writing so much we 'forget' how to write a story and approach it like a mechanical two-step, three step venture.

Julia - you're right. All the good stuff of reading is lost in translation in the movie version. There's just so much more to a written story than a visual one! This deep pov also allows every reader to forge his/her own idea, image, version of the character, whereas the visual/movie would only give you the director's view of the persona. Limiting to say the least.

Sandy - Darling, you're getting there in leaps and bounds, so don't discount yourself so easily!!

Thanks for chiming in!



Chicki said...

There is nothing like being swept away by a story. I am a book lover and the experience of getting lost in a book is one I have treasured since I was a child. I believe there will always be paper books, but this generation, and ones to come, are visually oriented and they're looking for a different experience. As writers we need to keep an eye on how the industry is changing.

Z(Aasiyah/Nolwynn) said...

Hey Chicki

Yes, you're right - the landscape is definitely changing.

But I don't think we'll ever lose the feel of getting lost in a book. I look at my own cousins and nephews, boys who are really trendy and hip,younger than I am, but they devour literature classics and I cannot hold a candle to them where books are concerned!

Reading as an art will never be lost, I think, even if there will be other support frameworks, the book and words will stand the test of time.

Thanks for the comment, and for dropping in!