Not just hard copies, either. Digital copies, too. All but with Amazon.
A lot of the publishers I’ve been reading about lately seem to have some advice. A lot of the agents lately really want you to take it. And it seems this is getting CRAMMED down our throats.
Show not Tell.
Since Darrows, when one of my CPs said I don’t show enough, I’ve read a TON of books. I’ve read old books, new books, and even books about writing books. And this is what I’ve noticed.
A lot of the older books, as far back as The Shining to Gilbert Grape to Silver Linings Playbook. There isn’t this micromanagement of characters and ideas a lot of people will tell you that you have to have. What I found seemed that some fine details were there, but it was done in such a way that it let the story shine. It didn’t drag into this person down with all these little things in between the story. (And the older stuff before PC came into play…was different.) The stories were allowed to go along with the main character and if said character wanted to describe out more details, then so be it. It was a nice on and off…
And it seems they all want you on all the time now.
I happen to like the on and off. It gave just enough info without over-killing the story with the plethora of details. I felt free to imagine what I wanted and what might be necessary. There isn’t much to imagine now and days with all this micromanagement going on.
Now, in reading the books about writing, there was one…and I couldn’t read too much into it because I disagreed with a lot of it. They were talking about how everyone now wants video this and video that. That everything you write should be like a movie described out into fine details. BLEH. If I want to watch a story, I’ll go visit any one of my digital copies or head over to on-demand…Netflix…whatever. I don’t want someone telling me all this stuff they see like I have to know it all. It’s too much to process. Too much information and it gets boring. (IMO…and that’s all this is, just my honest opinion.) Give me a good story. Let me have some creative right by imagining some parts or some people or some events like I used to do when I fell in love with reading.
Thursdays, I help out in a class with doing what the teacher calls “Book Chats”. I call them “Book Interviews”. I ask questions to the kids about their books they’ve chosen to read. I ask so many things, including why they chose the book. (and you get some VERY honest answers: “Because I have to read it to make my pages.” … “Because the cover looks awesome.” … “Because the back of the book description seemed interesting.” … “My mom is making me do it.”) Especially during the fiction chats, I get to ask things like what they imagined and what they wondered about. When we cover the newer books, I always get answers like: “There was nothing to imagine. The author told me everything I had to know.” 😦 That is so sad. Those books are also the ones they seem to not be as into or excited about as the older ones that cycle around. And those chats can last for hours if I let them.
While I can’t say for sure that’s the reason more people are turning away from books, it feels like that’s it. I’m sure time is a major factor, but there seems to be no room left for the reader’s imagination and wonder. That was something I always LOVED about my favorite books over time.
I don’t think “Show not Tell” will save the publishing industry like everyone thinks it will.I think there is something obvious that’s being skipped.
Remember BIG when the adult Josh has this idea for an interactive comic. Back then, it was going for a choose your own adventure sort of thing. This idea goes a little above and beyond…and I would LOVE to figure out how to do it, because I think it’s where some books need to go.
Imagine reading a book, let’s go with RomCom since I’m so into them these days. There is a song the characters are dancing to…on a device (something like a Kindle, the Fire tablet, even an iPad) you touch the song name and it takes you to the YouTube video or the iTunes or Amazon song where you can sample or listen. There is a movie they go to on a date…touch the movie’s name, it could take you to a preview (faux or real, the fake ones usually better)… Touch a name of a character or place and get images to appear…Make it interactive.
Now I know someone is thinking…that’s crazy talk or I must have ADHD. No one can concentrate on the story. Well, if the links aren’t within the text, there could be footnote numbers (What’s Your Number?/Twenty Times a Lady had those with humorous notes) and those numbers could take you to a section at the end of the book. Sort of like the special features on a Blu-Ray or DVD…Behind the scenes, deleted scenes, character extras, soundtrack/playlist the author was inspired by, images, drawings…whatever the author would love to share. Imagine finding the book trailers back there…some actor or voice actor doing a quick read of a few pages of the book…So many possibilities and options.
Something like that would BE SO AMAZING! I think making a book more interactive and less micro-managed with words is the way to go. With younger people especially who seem to respond better to more interactive computer games, music venues, etc. Even the book chats are more successful and popular than the other option of book reports…because they can interact and engage.
I’m sure this might cost a fortune to do and that’s why no one seems to be exploring the possibilities. But, more and more publishers are asking full print book price for digital copies…which makes me want the paper versions because then you get that wonderful New Book smell as part of the price…I’d be willing to spend same as print book price if there were extras like this included. Maybe even a little more depending on what the extras are.
Dare to daydream.
Until that happens, I’m going to keep writing, toning down my micromanagement…because I can micromanage my characters down to the eyelash order of a blink if I’m not watching myself. I admit, I am horrible at doing this. I will work on getting an agent…and I hope to be among the first of interactive stories out there. If only I was Stephen King or someone who could make it happen now.
this post filed under writer/reader wish list
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