Friday, October 9, 2009

The influence of television on telling in writing.

I find it interesting that I see alot of telling in first time writers. Granted, writing is a skill that is learned, and something like music and art that must be practiced to become good at it. Could that be why begining writers so often fall into the pattern of telling me what the main character is doing instead of immersing me into the story by showing? I know when I started to write, I wrote alot of telling interspersed with a ton of unnecessary detail.

As I have learned to write, I have learned to move beyond telling my reader what happened. I have learned to drag my reader gasping and choking into the scene and have them experience it in a similar way to what I see in my head.

I wonder if the increase of watching TV, playing games, whether on a game system or online, or perusing the internet at all is part of the reason. When we sit and watch something on TV we see and hear everything that is going on leaving out the other three senses. Everything the prodoucer/director wants us to see is on that screen and in the soundtrack. TV can be, regardless of the intense visual/audio bombardment, a one dimentional system of input.

It has been proven that as we watch TV part of our brain shuts off and we can become zombie like. Whereas, reading opens up a diferent world in our minds. In a book with good writing, description, and showing we engage all of our senses by using our imagination. We hear internal thought as well as dialogue, we smell scents that are described, we hear, feel, smell, see and taste what the writer wants us to. We are drawn into the setting and experience it to the fullness we choose inside our heads.

As the rate of electronic entertainment increases and the occurance of reading decreases, are we setting ourselves up for a world of sitting back and just watching life go by instead of experiencing it to its fullness?


M. Gray said...

And I wonder if TV has impaired our (or my!) ability to read. I just finished reading A Tale of Two Cities and, while the last quarter of the book was phenomenal, I had a very difficult time getting into the beginning of the book. I got so angry with myself for being so moronic. I don't want to be the idiot who has a hard time engaging her brain!!

Noble M Standing said...

It's funny, As i was writing this post my kiddos were watching 101 Dalmations. I was surprised at how influential the TV was in that show. I had to laugh at the irony of the timing.

Pendragon said...

well... this is just for curious discussion sake :) cuz you've sparked some thought, and now i'm running with it.

i've been told that i'm an extreme "show" person in my writing. Sometimes a little too extreme and i have to go back and delete out details, to simplify the showing. Now, i don't like watching "a lot" of TV, but i do watch a lot of movies. :) I write very similar to them... how i literally see it playing out in my head. So, i'm not so sure if movies/tv are connected with writers being more "telling" then "showing". Course, lol, good chance it's just me. I'm a little nuts.

Speaking of, just on a funny note, i got into an argument yesterday with james over the movie "Nine", and whether or not the hero's story-arc and end goal was strong enough. :) LOL

Pendragon said...

tehehehe My point was that it was some very deep thinking :) thanks for sharing your thoughts--it's got me watching now. It'd be interesting to look into "new" writer's show/telling vs whether they're heavier reading or watching