Balancing Feel and Story

More often than not, I’ll forfeit the ability to experience a story with my own imagination via books for watching TV or a movie. It’s weird to admit as someone who’s studied English for the better part of his life, but I really don’t love reading. I honestly never really did. In fact, unless I’ve been assigned some reading of a novel or something, I’ll probably never pick it up.

It’s not because the thought of sitting down to read bores me. Sometimes I can really get into a book and the only thing I want to do is read like with Ready Player One, Noragami, or the I Am Number Four series. I think I just have high expectations when it comes to entertainment and how I get that entertainment. I don’t want it to sound like I’m only interested in action and adventure stories but those are generally the ones that grab my attention right off the bat and never disappoint the whole way through.

Style is another factor that comes into play for me. Most of the reason why I just can’t get into some novels is that I’m just not a fan of the author’s writing style. It could be the most interesting piece in the world but if style doesn’t fit the tone, or admittedly just my tastes, then I just can’t do it. Take Wild Seed for example. I’m literally taking tons of inspiration from that book for my own novel and I never actually finished reading it. Hell, I think I SparkNotes’d it for the most part, with some light reading for quotes for my essays obviously. I loved the idea, wasn’t a very big fan of the writing personally, although I do plan to read it fully eventually.  

Another quick example, I had a Contemporary Fiction/Narrative class my last year at university in which we had the opportunity to read The Familiar, Volume 1: One Rainy Day in May by Mark Z. Danielewski before it was released to the public, provide feedback, and discuss it with six other classes around the world. Which, by the way, was the first time that I literally couldn’t google a synopsis, so you can only imagine how terrifying an 880 page manuscript of incredibly ambitious metafiction was to me at the time. Not to mention it’s the first of a planned 27-volume series AND this first volume came out in 2015 and the fifth one is coming out later this month. Needless to say, this guy loves what he does. And he’s damn good at it too. His use of metafiction is insanely impressive and thought provoking. He’ll throw words all over the page, arrange them in all sorts of shapes, and may even just put a single word on a page. But as you can probably assume, it wasn’t really for me. I loved the way he was writing, just not what he was actually writing. Great overall experience though (if you could believe me).

But with movies and TV, I don’t know, they don’t necessarily reel me in in a better way, but they certainly do it more consistently. And I think it’s mostly due to trailers. With a trailer, you not only get a peek into the story, you get to see how it’s going to be told. The book equivalent, which is just a quick synopsis, perhaps on the back, gives you a chance to see if the story is even something worth your time but it can’t show you the style really. Really, for either forms of entertainment, it could be best story ever but if it’s told in an uninteresting way, then I’ll pass.

I like that think I carry that ideology into my own writing. I know the story or poem won’t be liked by all, but I try to make sure everything including tone, mood, and style are compatible with the story. I don’t know, maybe if you don’t love what I write, you might like the way I write it, like how I felt about Danielewski. Conversely, I know that the way I write isn’t going to be liked by everyone, but hopefully the story will at least catch your attention. There needs to be that balance between feel and story. I am by no means claiming that I have that under wraps myself, but I can at least recognize its existence or lack thereof in certain stories.

I’m perfectly aware that movies are concrete intrepetations of ideas or stories with no real room for viewer imagination. I know that in choosing movies over books, I’m sacrificing the ability to picture things for myself and let it in happen uniquely in my mind. After all that reading, I’m sure you realize that I’m a visual learner, or maybe you’re applying my way of thinking to more broad group of people to which I may belong. Think what you want, my thoughts are my own and so are yours. I like reading and I like watching movies and TV. Neither is inherently better than the other. My preferences are just weirdly unique, I suppose, but I think that should apply to more than just entertainment. I’m glad we live in a world in which I can get my news through reading and watching. I’m glad I can learn things by reading, watching, or doing them. And I’m glad I can choose to be entertained in the way I prefer.

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