Re: Film and Visual media in conjunction with a broken Publishing system has ruined the novel

#1
This is based off my reading across several such sites as this, and one reoccurring theme is the prose written as a screen play. Undoubtedly, longform story telling on tv/streaming platforms has taken off and is great, inspiring a lot of people to take up the pen/keyboard to craft their own epic stories. But the language of visual media and film differs drastically than that of prose. the nuance of descriptive text is lost to the relative ease of blunt declaratives and matter of fact depictions that might work on a script but read like a police report. 
Publishers, ever with their heads in their ass, have strangled the industry chasing trends; content to follow the Disney model of recycling pre-existing IP's or milk fossils that made money once before. This has left (presumably) a generation with a desire for and to create their own creative works, but the only frame of reference being the language of film. Its readable, and one can often see what the author was trying to accomplish, but it doesn't hit the same, something is lost. 
Describing a character as a 6 foot tall blonde with an hourglass figure in a red dress does not evoke the same imagery as A statuesque, flaxen haired vixen draped in shimmering silk of blood-red crimson.
I've seen a lot of good stories, stories with potential, bogged down by the use of film language in prose. Is it just me? Am I the asshole? Is there a way to fix this?

Re: Film and Visual media in conjunction with a broken Publishing system has ruined the novel

#3

Cinn Wrote: Not sure on the wider issues of writers' vocabulary you're asking about, but isn't there a time and a place for particular prose styles? Do all stories require purple prose or are some better off with beige prose?

Its not an issue of purple prose or style, but more a fundamental difference in how stories are crafted/framed in visual versus print. This is not a criticism, at least, I do not mean for it to come off as such. It is more an observation of a trend I've noticed. It says nothing of the skill or the content of the story, its just one is told in mandarin the other in cantonese. Both can be read, and when spoken can be mostly understood, its just a different language.

I was just curious if anyone else noticed this and or had any ideas about the perceived trend so we could have a nice little circle jerk about it.

Re: Film and Visual media in conjunction with a broken Publishing system has ruined the novel

#4
Could you give an example by writing out a scene in the two different forms you’re talking about?

You can’t capture everything a visual medium does in writing in setting/scene. Just how visual mediums can’t convey character thoughts/feelings as well as written media can unless there’s an actual monologue going on in the background of in the visual.

Is it writing style you’re talking about? Some authors prefer more descriptive, movie-like writing styles while others prefer more slow paced, inferential writing styles....

Writing changes with times though. Nothing stays the same. I mean if you read the Greek Illiad (762 BCE) and compare it to Pride&Prejudice (1797) and Shakespeare works (1550s) and compare it to Brandon Sanderson novels (present), there’s a stark difference between ALL groups. It’d be weird if it stayed the same but you can appreciate a little bit of something from all eras of writing.

Re: Film and Visual media in conjunction with a broken Publishing system has ruined the novel

#5
I have noticed that many stories do tend to err on the side of less description. Part of this may be due to the influence of visual media which as a passive experience conditions people to expect more immediate gratification. However, I think there are other reasons. As for myself, I like to use less detailed descriptions to allow readers to fill in the blanks with their own imaginations. Also people have less time to read today than in the past so are less tolerant of long winded descriptions. Tolkien could spend a page describing an Ent. Try that today and you'll be hit with comments complaining about filler. In your example I much preferred the second version as it engages the reader. Unfortunately, not everyone can write that way. 

Re: Film and Visual media in conjunction with a broken Publishing system has ruined the novel

#6
I can post some links that encapsulate whatt I'm talking about, but here's the key takeaway:
"In prose, the writing is the finished product. In a screenplay, the movie is it’s final form.  So there’s no thoughts, no emotions, no asides–just action and dialogue. In a script, you’re only writing what will be SEEN or HEARD by the eventual audience.  And guess what?  No description either.  You want your lead in a blue dress?  Oh well.  UNLESS it directly influences the plot, but if you just envisioned her that way–too bad.  Why?  Because at this point you’re doing someone else’s job.  A movie is a collaboration.  There’s someone whose entire job is picking out what color dress your lead will be in." 
The author goes on to give the following examples, the same screen done in prose and in script format
https://jamesschannep.com/oddities/freebies/the-tunnel-script/
https://jamesschannep.com/oddities/freebies/the-tunnel-prose/

The script form is very straight forward, this scene has this that and the other, where as the prose form utilizes the five senses to paint not only a picture, but a mood, evoking emotions. It is not just a stylistic choice, because whereas the final version of a script is the film or tv show, where a director will fill in the gaps, the final version of a book is the book. What's on the page is all we get. It is up to the author to make us feel by using the language of prose, the five senses. Stating "She wore a red dress and had big breast" will describe a character, sure, but its superficial. when that character is played on screen by (insert famous conventionally attractive actress) then that means something. The goal of prose is to make words mean something, to communicate your vison to another human using nothing but black and white text. Is this person to be erotic? How do you convey that? The how is the style portion, by not doing it at all by using flat descriptions or ommiting them entirely, that's the issue.

Re: Film and Visual media in conjunction with a broken Publishing system has ruined the novel

#7
I would say that is isn't people trying to write like a film that has turned a lot of potentially really good authors mediocre.
It is much easier to watch a film or a show or listen to a podcast in your free time than it is to sit down and focus on reading a book. Not to knock on people who enjoy those compared to a book since not everyone enjoys sitting down and reading a book since it is just entertainment in the end, but I think this easier consumption of said entertainment has led to a decrease in people's vocabulary and taken from their selection of words. Because of this when they then go to write a book they describe it as they saw it, not trying to invoke the emotions they felt when they saw it. And they simply don't notice that they haven't given the same feeling as they felt, to them it is a perfectly fine description of what they want others to see. The fact of how visual movies are means that you also never have to focus on the setting, I am sure many authors have fantastic and wonderful views of amazing and mythical places but when it come to putting it into words it all falls flat because they cannot put it into words and do their own thoughts justice, so they end up trying their utmost to get the readers to see exactly what they do, and that often ends up being too wordy and it still doesn't invoke emotion in them so it is skimmed past.
I wouldn't say it is a problem of them wanting to copy films, but rather them going from watching films to wanting to show people their own story like they see on the big screen, but they just cannot get the feeling right and they don't know how to properly settle their setting, or how to be engaging to the reader.

-a sincere message from a pretentious reader

Re: Film and Visual media in conjunction with a broken Publishing system has ruined the novel

#8
I would say that our approach to prose changes in response to our social experiences.

In the early days of novels, authors had to write to convey a lot of visual and social information because, in the days before mass media, most readers' experiences were informed only by a very narrow field of personal interaction.  You knew what you saw around you every day.  So if you were rural, you might not know what a city was like and vice versa.  If you were middle class, you wouldn't know how the aristocracy comported themselves in private.  If you were aristocracy, you'd have no idea about the day to day life of the rural working class (let alone the industrial working class, or the work of artisan craftsmen).  Novels like Tess of the d'Urbervilles or Oliver Twist were literally opening new worlds to the minds of the people who read them.

Fast forward to today and we are now intuitively familiar with all kinds of setting, places and cultures, genre conventions, technologies and ideas.  We don't need to have these things explained to us.

If I say "the President entered the oval office, went to his desk and sat down" the odds are good that you know exactly what that looks like or, at least, you have a reasonable facsimile of it in your head from the umpteen on-screen portrayals you've already seen.  So, as an author, I can afford to cut away descriptive passages that provide nothing to the plot and, instead, focus upon those things that you cannot intuitively know: how the characters feel, how they react to the world around them, how they speak to one another and how that drives forward events.

So no, I don't think people are writing in a way that mimics the writing of a screenplay.  I think most fiction writers have no idea how to frame a screenplay.  I think writers are just intuitively providing readers with less information because they make a reasonable assumption about what the readers already know about the world.

This is even true in fantasy fiction.  You don't need to spend long describing an orc.  I know what an orc looks like even thought they don't exist.  The most you have to do is explain how your orc is different to other orcs with which I might be familiar (which can be done by showing as much as telling).  Likewise, you might describe a spaceship to me, but you probably wouldn't describe a spacesuit or an airlock.  You wouldn't need to describe an aircar or a hover drone.  I would immediately attach those things a description from my catalogue of similar experienced images and just adjust them in response to the environmental details your provide.

Re: Film and Visual media in conjunction with a broken Publishing system has ruined the novel

#10
precinctomega Wrote: This is even true in fantasy fiction.  You don't need to spend long describing an orc.  I know what an orc looks like even thought they don't exist.  The most you have to do is explain how your orc is different to other orcs with which I might be familiar (which can be done by showing as much as telling).  Likewise, you might describe a spaceship to me, but you probably wouldn't describe a spacesuit or an airlock.  You wouldn't need to describe an aircar or a hover drone.  I would immediately attach those things a description from my catalogue of similar experienced images and just adjust them in response to the environmental details your provide.

I see your point, esp about real world things (eg people know what the White House looks like), but I'm not sure it's entirely true with fantasy/different world settings.

You say that you only need to describe what's different about your particular variant of species/ship/drone, but I'm not sure how much you can assume about a reader's default imagery. Though what you say is probably true for common species such as orc/elf etc.

Re: Film and Visual media in conjunction with a broken Publishing system has ruined the novel

#11
It also matters who the narrator is. If it's told in first-person, it will by necessity utilize the voice of the narrator. That is part of crafting good stories.

Using evocative language is not always in keeping with the style or genre of stories a given author may want to tell. For instance: If I were writing a moody noir story, then yes, using evocative language suits the story well. However, what if I am telling the story of artificial intelligence capable, far-future robots? Perhaps evocative language doesn't suit the story so well.

I keep my descriptive language to a minimum for my story because I am doing a light novel style, which means there will be an illustration every 10-15 pages. Since I'll be doing those illustrations, there's no point in doing the same work twice.

Re: Film and Visual media in conjunction with a broken Publishing system has ruined the novel

#12
Id just suggest not confining your reading to new titles marked  "YA".  There are tonnage of fictions written on the level of Banks and other authors if you want them. SS

Styles range from the traditional, like Raymond Feist uses to the silly, depending on your choices, and always have.  If there is a dumbing down, it occurs in the consumer, and is seen in their picks. The market place responds to these choices, being in the business of selling stuff. I write in both traditional and cinematic styles, to put before the audience choices to suit them. Frankly, seems a lot of younger readers prefer the cinematic approach, but I try to do both as well as I can. Different strokes, Etc.

Re: Film and Visual media in conjunction with a broken Publishing system has ruined the novel

#13
Dante_FromSpac5 Wrote: Describing a character as a 6 foot tall blonde with an hourglass figure in a red dress does not evoke the same imagery as A statuesque, flaxen haired vixen draped in shimmering silk of blood-red crimson.


I mean call me dumb but I read those two things and you know what the first thing I thought was? One of em, I immediately understood. The other, I had to wrap my head around loopholes to figure out what was going on. 

Re: Film and Visual media in conjunction with a broken Publishing system has ruined the novel

#14
Honestly, I agree with the sentiment, though not with the OP title itself; I think web fiction, YA, and some parts of the sci-fi/fantasy genres suffer greatly from lack of great writing, but overall the publishing industry is just fine.

What I do agree with is that people aren't reading enough, or reading a wide enough amount of stuff. They consume movies, podcasts, TV, comics, and video games, but not nearly enough prose, poetry, or even script for that matter, and it leaves them a bit behind when it comes to truly expressing themselves through writing. Reading web fictions won't help because so many authors have the same problem, and thus it turns into a lot of writers sounding very close to each other, but none of them really making a big impact with the writing style alone. Rarely do I read web novels and go, "Damn!" after reading a really great line. But with traditional novels it happens all the time.

I include myself in this, too! I know my writing style isn't up to snuff a lot of the time. I just didn't read very many novels outside of classes in high school or university, and the stuff I did read was mostly arthouse literary fiction that wasn't always good study material. Since recently I've read a lot more (and ready for study, not just for pleasure) and it has helped tremendously with improving my writing, though I still have a lot of a way to go. But still, 75% of what I consume is movies, comics, podcasts, and TV, so a majority of my media influence is other mediums.

Re: Film and Visual media in conjunction with a broken Publishing system has ruined the novel

#15

Dubs Wrote:
Dante_FromSpac5 Wrote: Describing a character as a 6 foot tall blonde with an hourglass figure in a red dress does not evoke the same imagery as A statuesque, flaxen haired vixen draped in shimmering silk of blood-red crimson.


I mean call me dumb but I read those two things and you know what the first thing I thought was? One of em, I immediately understood. The other, I had to wrap my head around loopholes to figure out what was going on. 

Your ignorance and seeming pride in it is both baffling and irrelevant to the topic.


Re: Film and Visual media in conjunction with a broken Publishing system has ruined the novel

#16
@Dante oof, I don’t think that Dubs meant any harm by his statement. Your second sentence was definitely very prettily written but the first sentence is easier for readers to digest. Certain readers do prefer purple/flowery prose but a majority most likely prefer beige prose. Simpler and to the point so they can move on with the plot and characters and stuff

It’s supply and demand. If readers truly do prefer flowery/purple prose more than the writers will meet the demand. It’s what sells unforunately

Re: Film and Visual media in conjunction with a broken Publishing system has ruined the novel

#17
I think part of great writing is finding that fine line between flowery prose and outright telling, you have to make sure that you use prose the readers will understand.

every story has a target audience, whether they set out with that in mind or not. And if the audience is younger they might not understand some words, simply because they have not read them before. by no means am I saying to never use more uncommon words, just use them sparingly so that the audience isn't alienated by what they do not understand





Quote:

Quote:Describing a character as a 6 foot tall blonde with an hourglass figure in a red dress does not evoke the same imagery as A statuesque, flaxen haired vixen draped in shimmering silk of blood-red crimson.




I mean call me dumb but I read those two things and you know what the first thing I thought was? One of em, I immediately understood. The other, I had to wrap my head around loopholes to figure out what was going on. 

He has a point that some people may not understand the second sentence. it does after all have wording you would find in a poem rather than a story, which is of course up to personal preference if that is how you want your story to sound.


Writing and publishing must adapt to the times, if you recognize that people may not be as familiar with rare or uncommon words then you should be sure to include enough context for them to know what those words mean.

Re: Film and Visual media in conjunction with a broken Publishing system has ruined the novel

#18

Dante_FromSpac5 Wrote: Your ignorance and seeming pride in it is both baffling and irrelevant to the topic.



I mean I wasn't trying to sound arrogant. All I was saying is 'what's the point in spending all this time finding these fancy words when it will just end up making the readers more confused and have to work harder to understand the story?'

If I was a reader, I wouldn't be like 'Oh! Look! Fancy words I don't understand! This must be a great book with a lot of thought put into it!'

Nah, I'm a simple man. I need simple words that I can understand. If the words are too complex and it takes me 30 minutes to read something I could've read in 5, why should I spend my time on it? It's like if you write a report meant for lay people to understand but all of a sudden start using technical terminology. They won't understand at all. 

Re: Film and Visual media in conjunction with a broken Publishing system has ruined the novel

#19
Dubs Wrote: I mean I wasn't trying to sound arrogant. All I was saying is 'what's the point in spending all this time finding these fancy words when it will just end up making the readers more confused and have to work harder to understand the story?'

I was taught (rightly or wrongly) that reading was a way to expand vocabulary, therefore I don't see fancy words as a bad thing.

Though I do see your point about overuse to the point of more than tripling reading time. 🤣

Re: Film and Visual media in conjunction with a broken Publishing system has ruined the novel

#20
Well, being fancy just to to show off is pretty pointless. I'm not into elitism or the idea that "your vocabulary must be this high to ride this ride".

I probably only use 1/10th of my vocabulary in my story. Perhaps 1/5th in my everyday life. Sure I can be fancy. But what's the point if I'm not communicating effectively?

I also frown pretty hard on people throwing around their intelligence or degrading another person's. I know for a fact that I am in the top group worldwide in intelligence, but I want my story to readable by as many people as possible, even if I do play with some fairly heady ideas. After all, it takes a very smart person to take a complex idea and make it understandable in simple terms, to laypeople. Those are the types of writers I admire.