Books vs Other Media

      book vs film

      WHEN I THINK of writing as a whole, I think of art, film and music as well. Each has a complimentary aspect to the writing craft. A picture can inspire a story. Even film at it’s foundation is not the moving image, but the written script. Music can evoke emotions that can enhance the writing process too.

Just for fun I want to take a look at what each medium brings to the Table of Story and what comparisons can be made as my analytical mind is let off the leash:

  1. Art – A picture either talks to you or it doesn’t, something about the colours, the subject matter and lay out. A picture is quite an immediate thing – Bam! – you see it, and you like it or you don’t. I have no science to back up how long that process is, but I imagine it is within the first few seconds, much how we appraise a new person we meet.
  2. Music – A step up from a picture or painting, one record tends to last around 3 minutes, a short time to assess it. Writing is often a 50% partner to the beat in forming the lyrics. Again, we tend to know by the end of the song, if not ten seconds in whether it is for us or not. But the time it takes is relatively fast, and music is probably the most virulent form of entertainment in terms of number of people it reaches.
  3. Film – A feature film is like a condensed book (and often is!). We have to watch it for over an hour+ in order to get the story, and we are breaking down the good and the bad as the run time expires. Time is invested and essential to determine how we rate a movie. In other words we have to spend time immersed in watching it to appreciate it fully, whether that is good, bad or mediocre.
  4. Books – Writing takes times to digest. I’m not sure what the average time to read a book is but I’d guess around the 8 hour mark. That is a severe investment in time. Novels are time hungry compared to the other media listed above and only you can read and turn the pages (forgetting audible etc). It takes longer to reach the reward of the end.

So, from art’s immediacy, you have musics’s accessibility and equally short digestion time. Film, takes us on an extended journey but with a significant investment of our attention, and books follow on with an even greater need of our time and the scale of a story can take us places unreachable by any other media.

They are related however. Books tell us stories, but so can a painting, a music track (especially hip hop) and film of course is predicated on doing what books do also. Are books the ultimate story telling format, because there is nothing extra beyond the words. No music can be added to add meaning or build tension. Your imagination builds the story world, all images are copyright to you. Everyone who reads a story, will have a different idea of what it looks like in their mind which in itself, is pretty incredible.

Disagree? Think I’m talking out of a certin place other than mouth? Have something to add? Please do.

 

lion around 2

40 Comments

  1. Film rarely does justice to the book. It saddens me that so many people say, ‘I don’t need to read the book, I’ve seen the movie.’ How terrible that people don’t have the attention span or commitment to devote themselves to something which takes longer than a couple of hours, and doesn’t give them instant gratification. I’m surprised you missed gaming off your list, and other art forms which tell a story, such as dance, for example. But those you quoted would be the most popular and mainstream, I guess. I agree that reacting and forming an opinion to a painting or piece of music happens very quickly. Reading a book takes effort and commitment. I guess that puts many people off. Sadly. But there are still a lot of readers out there.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts.
      I find the books and film issue is a double bind. If I see the film first I generally wont read the book.
      Yeah gaming is a big oversight, someone else raised that too, and games are incredible storytelling devices adding in the immersive control element other media cant give us.
      Thankfully plenty people still read ☺ I hate it when I hear someone say with a boastful tone that they dont read. Pretty tragic.

      1. I know! Unfortunately my 12 year old son falls into that category… he says reading is boring! My other son loves reading though. You wrote a very interesting and thought provoking post. 😊

      2. Some people just dont like it maybe? There are so many more distractions competing for attention now too even from when I was younger, books arent that appealing compared to the web, games consoles and tablets.

  2. Succinctly said! Movies take out all the flowery descriptive prose and just serve the meat of the matter. I usually enjoy the book rather than the chopped up results in a movie and I am a movie lover. I think the movie version, however,bof the book, Gone Girl Gone, was well done and preferred it to the book.

    I agree art and music can be enjoyed at a faster pace than reading but through a book you can travel anywhere you let your mind take you. Books touch the heart. Music does soothe the savage beast, so they say. LOL! Art stirs the soul.

    Nice to meet you, Lion. Saw your post on the ape man’s fantastic blog, My blog is http://jemsbooks.wordpress.com. Will stop by again. 😃
    .

  3. I know you weren’y comparing these different formats. Film has the distinct advantage of being a visual format. Setting and mood are so easily provided. Once you add music it should be the finest of all the forms.

    Yet, how many times have I seen a movie after reading the book, and the movie just doesn’t compare.

    1. Thats a good point about film.
      And adaptations can rarely meet the expectation of a book. So many people work on a film when it gets every ingredient right it is phenomenal, but thats a lot of variables. Also we carry over our expectations and own imaginings that so rarely can the film version match or exceed them. Sometimes not reading a book and seeing a film is better.

      1. Last night I saw “The Time Traveler’s Wife.” Nice film, but nothing near the book. I guess like you say, there are just to many people involved trying to get the right touch.

  4. Lots to disagree/add. There are many art forms you omit. Music doesn’t/ didn’t take just three minutes. Some books take longer than eight hours. Some poems take but a minute. It’s unfair to be so flip about it. The current popularity of film and video tilts our orientation and shortens our attention spans. Anyhoo, finding the common thread is an interesting quest.

  5. You forgot the other oft neglected form of media, and that is games.
    Games tell us narratives just as well if not better than the others but if you want to talk about the ultimate medium…than it’s words 😛

    1. I didnt think of games. You are totally right, games like Fable and Red Dead Redemption are hugely immersive and we arent just reading or watching a tale we are involved in it.
      Lol at words, but it depends where they go ☺

  6. I love your ideas! A while ago I read The Cambridge Introduction to Narrative and one of the things it discussed was how art can imply a story. You only see a snapshot in time, but it often implies an action that took place before and makes your brain infer what would logically happen next. Good point about the immediacy of music, too! You’re obviously talking about “popular” music…what do you think about classical music? The instrumental stuff doesn’t have words, but an idea that’s constantly intriguing me is how it can still tell a story. Thoughts?

    1. I was talking about pop music.
      Classical definitely tells a story as it generally is longer and stuff like Mozarts Seasons (or was it Vivaldi?) is a great example of a story. Classical is also more emotive generally, so even if it isnt telling a story, it evokes the senses more than pop music.

      1. Fair points! I feel like classical music can actually invoke stories similar to those in books. If you imagine the music you’re hearing is a movie score you can imagine who the characters might be and what they might be doing!

  7. It’s not so much that I disagree but that I’d like to expand on what you say about art and music. I have no talent or experience as an artist but I am a musician. Liking/disliking a piece of music is not always or necessarily a matter of sudden instinct. One possibility is that you hear it in a particular context of place time or mood and it excites a reaction. Listen in a different situation – maybe more relaxed, say, and it will strike a different chord (apologies for the pun) altogether. That often happens to me.
    Sometimes, rather than reacting at all, for example if the music is incidental to some other activity, you remember, mull it over and react later.
    I feel it may be the same with art.

    1. Thats certainly true about music I forgot to include that element.
      And music can definitely grow on me, but then repetition is partially the cause as we grow fonder of tunes the more familiar they are.
      I hadnt thought of place affecting our liking either. Cheers.

      1. I’ve occasionally bought a disc of some music I’ve enjoyed on a holiday only to get home and never play it again. I find it’s the same with booze. 🙂

  8. Isn’t it strange, when they say a picture says more than a thousand words that we still prefer books? Maybe readers at least (if not all humans) like to be involved (and reading is involving the reader, as he turns the story of the book in his head into a movie), with a movie we are only consuming passively, with a book we are consuming the words, but the pictures in our heads, the sound of the voices, the atmosphere – that’s all going on actively in our heads.

    1. Thats a great point fran, and ultimately a nice picture is great but we wont spend 8 hours watching it.

      And the passivity is what makes a film great, but what makes a book our own, you stated it perfectly.
      Thanks for dropping by ☺

  9. This is a really great topic to discuss, and the discussion can go on for ages. I especially love your ending paragraph where you ask if books are the ultimate story-telling format because there is nothing except the words on the page and the reader. I think, in a way, it is, because you’re cutting out all the superfluous elements: no soundtrack to let you know if this is a funny scene or a tragic one, and no bright colors to let you know what kind of strong emotion you should be feeling. And that makes the art of writing all that much more magical, I think.

  10. Of course films lose a lot from books in terms of content simply due to time restrictions, but they can be really wonderful artistic expressions of the story. Palahniuk once wrote something along the lines of how he’s never upset when film adaptations deviate from his story because the team behind the movie has to find a way for it to become their own, to artistically express themselves.

    Most film adaptations end up being garbage cash-grabs, but when well done I think they can tell the story in a new exciting way visually.

    Anyway, not really disagreeing, just a thought. Great post!

    1. Cheers for dropping by Travis. I think Palahnuik has it right, I mean there are so many people needed to make a film, that something gets lost, plus an author cant spew their vision onto a story board.

      I also wasn’t meaning to say one medium was better etc, just trying to look at how they differ and are the same.

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