Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Here I Am

Okay, I just accidentally hit the CapsLock key, and I had to retype that stupid headline three times before I figured it out. Think I'm a little burned out? Yeah, me too.

And I'm not really sure why. Perhaps it's a lack of caffeine. Perhaps it's that I'm trying to write three books at once. Perhaps it's that I've been so distracted and furious the last day or so by the new wave of internet piracy, and the attitude some poeple seem to have towards it. Which ranges from "Nobody reads ebooks" to...well..."Nobody reads ebooks."

Oh, well then. If nobody reads them--aside from the several hundred people downloading them, or the thousands who buy them every week--then I guess theft of intellectual property is okay, right? It's just some freaks who like ebooks doing it, after all. Grrr.

And what else? I am officially so tired of winter I want to rip out my hair at the roots.

The hubs and I watched Raiders of the Lost Ark last night. I hadn't forgotten how good it is--I don't think you forget how good a movie like that is--but I had forgotten just how good. How clever the visuals are. The use of shadows in the film, for example. Amazing. When Marion is closing up her bar, and the door opens, and we see a shadow on the wall. It's Indiana Jones. We know it, and so does she. before he even speaks we see her shoulders fall and then tense as she recognizes him. It's such a great moment.

Do you think it's possible for books to bring the same sense of the visual to a reader, as it is for a movie to a viewer? Or is it never as clear, because it's open to interpretation, or simply takes too long to describe?

I would never say I prefer movies to books. But I do think they each have their limitations.

And tis is short, and not ranty, because I really am whacked.


Robyn said...

Oh, well then. If nobody reads them--aside from the several hundred people downloading them, or the thousands who buy them every week--then I guess theft of intellectual property is okay, right? It's just some freaks who like ebooks doing it, after all. Grrr.

Well of course. Everyone knows that printing it, folding it, and mailing it to an editor means you are a diligent, serious AUTHOR- but if you send a query, partial or ms by pushing a 'send' button you are a lazy whore. So it stands to reason that if the story is printed, it's REAL. If it's on the computer, it must not be, right?

I agree totally with your grrr. OT- how was Equus?

kis said...

In a way, that internet piracy thing almost makes me want to cheer. I mean, the prevailing belief among the ignorant masses is that ebooks are mostly crap. Maybe if it gets enough press people will start to realize, nobody ever really tries to steal crap. Maybe knowing ebooks are good enough for someone to steal will make readers give them a shot?

And no, for me the visual imagery is rarely that clear with a book. Except...there was this one I started ages ago that began with a very effective description of one of those crystal clear winter nights where the stars look sharp enough to stab you and your breath hardly mists because the air drinks the moisture up as soon as it leaves your mouth. Of course, it went on and on, and even after the action started, the author kept interrupting with new and unique ways of telling me how cold it was, and how clear the sky, and how pristine the snow, and how cold it was, and... Bleh. I gave up on page ten. Bummer, too, because the back cover blurb and the cover art really had my hopes up. But I really could picture the setting in my head, as distinct as if it was on a movie screen.

I think in a book, the trade-off is more important. In a movie, you can give that stunning visual--the blue chick on stage in the Fifth Element, or that aerial approach to the city in Blade Runner, or the huge, sweeping deserts of Lawrence of Arabia--in a few seconds of film. In writing, you have to focus more on the feel of a place, and you can't hold up the action or the reader just gets pissed.

Robyn said...

Forget my last question- you answered it below. *blush*

One place movies have it over books is the stunning visual that leaves you with more than words ever could. For example, I could read a stat about how many men were killed in the Civil War, but that shot in Gone With the Wind where the camera keeps pulling back and finally, waving over thousands of bodies, is the tattered confederate flag. Or better still, Schindler's List or Saving Private Ryan.

One place books will always win, though, is in not saying too much. The book Alien didn't really describe the monster, and since my imagination could take over it scared the bejeebers out of me. The movie went all over the top and made me laugh instead.

littlebirdblue said...

And this is short, and not ranty, because I really am whacked.

Does anybody else think "Short, Whacked and Ranty" sounds like a good tee-shirt?

A bumpersticker?

A battlecry?

A toast?

Three characters in a very bizarre fairy tale?

BernardL said...

I believe the arrival of Father Merrin in William Peter Blatty's The Exorcist stands out as an example of a literary moment like you describe. The beginning of Benchley's Jaws is another striking moment.

Scary Monster said...

Me has left a comment on one of your previous posts (The Calling Card)Me liked it so much that Me returns to see what else has ticked offa your fingers.

Hmmm Movies vs Books. Me believes that in the hands of a capable artist both of them can do pretty much the same thing.

Movies have an advantage of using sound and music to emphasize the timbre and texture of a scene and the written word can take you places in your imagination that cinematographers have been unable to reach.

There is a place where the two styles meet and groove together for awhile, but me is afraid to mention it while there be novelists and poets nearby..

Nice place you have here.
Hope me be welcome to return.

December Quinn said...

Yes, I do hate that, Robyn. Especially since being over here in the UK, querying by post is much more difficult. I'd query UK agents but I am American, I write American books with American characters living in America (except the historicals of course) and since chances are we will move back to the US at some point I'd rather just start where I plan to finish, you know?

Especially considering the environmentalist leanings of most editors and agents, I'm surprised equeries and subs are viewed as badly as they are. Shame. Hopefully that will change.

December Quinn said...

Very true, kis. Nobody does try to steal crap, and I never thought of it in such concise terms before! Excellent!

And yes, that's the problem in a nutshell, isn;t it. You want to give a good feel of time and place, and enough setting so the reader doesn't feel like your characters are just floating heads...but too much description stops the story and bores the reader. Ugh! I miss picture-books sometimes!

December Quinn said...

And that's true, too, Robyn. Books can give you a mind's-eye picture of sweeping vistas, but only movies can actually put those images before your eyes and make you gasp from the sheer spectacle.

I've seen at least one naked photo purporting to be Radcliffe--posing by a white horse, naked all the way down. It is not him. Just so you know, if you see it. :-)

Lol, littlebirdblue! That is awesome! And for some reason makes me think of GG Allin. Maybe because of "Drink, Fight and Fuck"?

December Quinn said...

Darnit, Bernardl, I haven't read either of those. Although Jaws is one of my favorite movies ever. I've had both of them on my wishlist for ages, but never got around to it. Now I have to move them up.

Of course you're welcome, Scary Monster! Lovely to have you. Thanks for the heads-up on the Calling card post, I do look back at old posts for comments for a few days, but then with less and less frequency. It may have been a week or two before I noticed it.

That's true, movies are able to use other elements to manipulate the senses and bring the viewer more into the story. Another advantage, indeed.

Why be afraid to mention where it is? Or am I just dense? :-)

crowwoman / rhian said...

ah man - y'all are way too cerebral for me tonight. I'm staring and staring and no connecting the little dots. All i can say is books make pretty pictures in my head. Like books. Books good. Uh - might be time for Rhi to call it a night. Damn work sucked my brain out my ears.

bunnygirl said...

It seems to me there are a lot of things movies can show more concisely than a book. But where movies fail is in conveying all the deeper psychological underpinnings of a story. They can get some of it through music, scene and dialogue, and there are some truly stunning visual moments in classic film. But ultimately, only a book can take you into all the layers and complexities of Why.

Part of this is due to the medium itself. In film, you've usually only got two hours to say all the most important things, so things get condensed into a sort of emotional shorthand. This is fine for conveying information, but only rarely does it succeed in delivering the nuances.

December Quinn said...

Lol, Rhian! I know the feeling. I was in contemplative whacked mode last night, but I've been where you were many times. :-)

Very true, Bunnygirl. The inner stuff is much harder to pin down. It's the story itself that translates so well into film, or that film can sometimes make so much more exciting.

But ultimately, I do tend to prefer the in-depth stuff of the book. I like to know why, not just what.

Bernita said...

There is a lot to be said for imagination - but both mediums do provoke it.
I wonder if film also restricts it in a sense?
Donno. Glad we have both.

BernardL said...

When I read The Exorcist and Jaws there were no movies. :) I read The Exorcist in two sittings, and then read it again months later. I never believed they could make a movie of it. When you read the first couple pages of Jaws, you'll get a great example of how to reach out and yank a reader in by the throat. :)

Sam said...

Love Love LOVE Raiders of the Lost Ark series!
And you're right- great use of lighting. Like when they're digging and Indiana is silhouetted against the sunset, and he shrugs off his disguise and puts his hat back on.

Anonymous said...

Movies to books for me is a genre thing. I love reading romance but hate romantic movies. Hard as I try I can't read sci-fi, but I love the movies. I think it's a POV thing. I want to be in the head of the person falling in love, but I prefer to watch the guy who's blasting the purple guts out of an alien.

Jerks will steal anything.

I'm only starting to feel winter. I arrived in one of Canada's most notoritous winter cities last week. It's snowed three times since! It was sunny and 15 degrees when I left the island. I'm sure once it hits -40 I'll change my mind, but for now I'm loving it!

kis said...

Actually, Jenn, we have snow on the island right now, and my van doors a frozen shut again! Oh, well, better than rain I guess.

December Quinn said...

I think in some ways film absolutely restricts imagination, Bernita. It's very difficult, for example, reading Gone With the Wind and not seeing Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable.

Then shows us some amazing things to fire our imaginations as well. It would be hard to picture, for example, an explosion, or flying in space, without film, because I've never seen anything like those things asie from tv or movies.

December Quinn said...

I totally have to read those, Bernardl. Next time I place an Amazon order!

I love that moment, Sam! The use of shadows and silhouettes to add to the spooky feelings of the film, to give it a tinge of old-movie/comic book heroism, is fascinating.

December Quinn said...

That's a good point, Jenn. I don't hate all romantic movies but I do tend to prefer action/sci-fi/fantasy/adventure films. And martial arts movies and stuff, because I'm all about the violence.
Lucky you. It seemed to be warming up a tad, but it was freezing again this morning. And I think, it's MARCH!! Warm UP already!

December Quinn said...

Yes, kis, I had to scrape ice off the car this morning. It delayed us getting moving and we were a few minutes late already. I can't imagine if the locks were iced. Bleh.

kis said...

Ack, it ain't the locks, it's the gasket around the entire doorframe. It rains so much here, the seal is always wet, and when it freezes, well, you can pull and pull, and the only thing that will happen is the door handle will come off. So there you are, freezing your butt off, pouring lukewarm water all over your car door and trying to wrench it open before it freezes again. By the time you're done, the driveway is a skating rink.

Still, all in all, snow is way better than rain.