Wednesday, March 9, 2011

ADD in reading

First up, I'd like to thank everyone who read and commented on my 550 words in the Catch Me If You Can blogfest. Great feedback! It was fascinating to see what people thought.

A lot of people liked it just as it was, slowly unfolding so the reader makes discoveries alongside the character, but several thought it moved too slowly, and wanted to move onto dialogue sooner. This interests me.

I think attention spans in this day and age have shrunk drastically. I blame any number of things: music videos, Twitter, computer games, television. But I also think it's a shame. Sometimes things do take time to unfold. Sometimes you have to invest some attention into understanding or enjoying something. Not everything is instant gratification.

I have the same issue with movies. These days it's rare for a director to let a scene play out. It's all chop chop in the editing room, cutting the film so we never linger in any one place, or shot for too long. In some films a frenetic pace like that works. In others, not so much. I admire film makers who dare to keep the camera in one place and let the scene unfold. It's a much braver choice.

And it's the same with books. Gorgeous writing should be savored. If I'm loving a writer's way with words, I don't want to be rushed from plot point to plot point. I want to flow through the book on a river of fine prose. I'd like to think that's what I'm doing in my own book. How I express the events and emotions is as important to me as the actual events. I'm writing a book about people. What happens to them is important, but how they see the events and how the events affect them is equally important, and sometimes it takes a little time for them to recognize these things.

Do you wish things could slow down a little sometimes?


  1. I couldn't agree with you more. I don't have the same delicate flowing style of prose as some authors, but I still have an appreciation for letting the story unfold.

    It's an issue I have with hearing things like "I didn't get a sense of time, place, feeling, plot, tension, character, motivation" when you only post 200-500 words of a novel. If all of that could be summed up in half a page, you wouldn't need to write a novel about it.

    Then again, I like the way tail lights opens, so I'm biased ;-)

  2. I'm with you 100%. It feels like these days there is a push to make the first chapter speak for the entire book. Yes a first chapter should be strong enough to suck the reader in, but my favorite books are the ones that build to a crescendo, using every little moment to reveal and guide the reader to the big blast. I like confusions that are slowly cleared up over the course of a novel. A world that grows clearer with each step.

    So, yeah. Completely with you.