Monday, July 31, 2006

Every Picture tells a Story..........

Unfortunately, every story does not paint a picture. Perhaps it’s the insidious influence of television that does it, generally being just mush for the mind (with some notable exceptions) but just as alarmingly, candy for the eye. The need for descriptive writing is dispensed with.

That’s the impression I get from some of the manuscripts that land on my desk. They tend to be long on plot and short on background. The characters move like cardboard cut-outs against a one dimensional, rarely painted background leaving the reader (me) feeling strangely detached from the story and, in consequence, rather bored.

Filling out the characters and locations in the story does not necessarily mean the rather longwinded descriptive passages beloved by Dickens, wonderfully evocative though they are, but a character can be painted by far simpler methods. Richmal Crompton’s schoolboy William can surely be visualised by every reader of her books, even without the illustrations, and disillusion only sets in when some benighted television producer tries to turn it into a series. Good writing inspires the imagination but television can only destroy those marvellous images that can be created in the mind’s eye.

The list of these depredations is endless; Wind in the Willows, Three Men in a Boat, Alice in Wonderland have all succeeded only in destroying the magic for those who have read and loved the books. Those that have only watched the TV versions are to be pitied.

There are the occasional silver linings in that adaptations of classics such as Pride and Prejudice may have led to a revival in the reading of the books. But how much better to have read the book and had the characters, backgrounds and intricacies of plot brought to life in the mind rather than spoon-fed to you at the whim of the producer.

I often feel that those who have sucked in the TV version and then gone out and bought the book have really got their priorities backwards.

Better still, read the books and turn off the television – if you aim to be a writer, you’ll be all the better for it.


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