Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Story Riding (Bound and Gagged and in the Trunk)

One reason why I think reading novels will never be beaten back by movies, television, or any other medium is the basic fact that reading about something remains the closest experience we're ever going to get to the real thing. The work of a writer requires a reader to bring their imagination to the table in order to complete the circle. The work of a writer lives inside our hearts and minds.

Who hasn't noticed that when we're driving to a place we've never been before, when we arrive, we know how we got there, and we know how to get home? Now let's climb into the passenger seat and make the same drive. We've got a feel for how we got there, but everyone of us would probably need the GPS to get home. And if we made the trip from the backseat, that's like riding in the trunk. Forget about it. We don't know where we are.

That's the way I think we experience stories. If we're reading a good novel, we're behind the wheel. We know what the characters' needs are, we know their goals and what they're up against. But we also know what's going on inside them. If we're watching a good movie, we're in the passenger seat. We know what's going on, but the interior world of the characters isn't necessarily locked down. A few years ago I would have said that watching television is like riding in the backseat or trunk. But now, with so many wonderful cable series, I'd say that's like watching a movie. The only good people riding in the trunk these days are those of us who, from time to time, get hooked on a reality TV show. (Like me when National Geo broadcasts LIFE BELOW ZERO!)

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