c.s. lewis, marshall mcluhan, novel formats, novels, story dynamics, style, teens can write too, the screwtape letters
I just realized that I entirely forgot about my Teens Can Write Too post.
Scratch that. I think I didn’t ever hear that I got accepted. Bah. Comment reply, acting up again.
So, better late than never, right?
Anyway: Books in non-novel format.
Oh, yes. Absolutely.
But it takes a very talented author to pull one off well. Though, that’s not about to stop me from trying.
I keep forgetting to update my “Novels” page, so this may be new news to some of my readers, but one of my best plot bunnies recently was about a virtual world that drove people insane, and not by some MK-Ultra thingy.
Rather than having stuff in it designed to drive people insane (well, at first… *ominous laugh*), it was too realistic. People couldn’t cope with it. It was called “Second Life” for a reason–it was too like the real world, and people aren’t supposed to try to live two lives at once.
The thing about this plot is that it would be pretty hard to write it as a novel. So I was thinking about writing it as a movie script first, and then adapting it as a novel. Maybe it would be easier, coming at the plot a second time.
(It’s definitely psychological thriller. I’m really starting to like this genre.)
On the other hand, there are styles which have been around for centuries which are non-standard format. The epistolary style, for instance, in which a story is told entirely through the use of letters written between two friends. Or enemies. Whatever you like.
Case in point: C.S. Lewis’ masterpiece The Screwtape Letters.
Collections of poetry, and short stories, too. Also, plays. (Like above!)
I’ve read about more innovative versions, such as stories which were single-sentence flash fiction, the most recent installment building on all those before it, yet still stand on their own. I don’t have the patience or the energy or puzzle-box of a mind that it would take to build something like that.
I recently read about a story which was told entirely in a series of texts, as a twist on the older epistolary style, and another which was written entirely in txtspeak and sent to subscribers’ smartphones as a serial.
However, while those avant-garde styles are intriguing, I don’t think an author should pick a style just because it’s intriguing. I think he or she should pick the style that fits best with the story he or she wants to tell.
Marshall McLuhan, a media scholar, once said in a rather extreme example “The medium is the message” (emphasis added.) While, obviously, the same message can be sent via mail or email, the choice between snail mail and email will define things such as word choice, style, tone, and also perhaps the size or length of the message. You can’t make the same impact with a song-fic that you can with a fan video; you can’t be as clear with a fan video as you can in a song-fic. Movies and books are two entirely different mediums, with different necessities and different emotional effects on the audience. That’s why it can be so hard to make a movie of a book sometimes. Medium–format–is important. But it all depends on the message. If your ambition is simply to use a certain medium, stop now. That’s not how you tell a really good story. Fit the medium to your plot, not your plot to the medium.
I’m all for non-standard format, whether avant-garde or traditional. That doesn’t mean I’ll forgive a poorly-told story for the sake of its format.
And that’s pretty much my entire opinion on format. Cake anyone?
6th – http://www.ch1con.tumblr.com (Post will be published at night on 3/6!)
7th – http://www.kirabudge.weebly.com/
8th – http://irisbloomsblog.wordpress.com/ – Iris!
9th – http://rcubedreadsreviews.blogspot.com/
10th – http://ramblingsofaravis.wordpress.com/
11th – http://arielkalati.blogspot.com/
12th – http://semilegacy.blogspot.com/
13th – http://musingsfromnevillesnavel.wordpress.com/
14th – http://abookishflower.wordpress.com/
15th – https://erinkenobi2893.wordpress.com/ <– clearly, this is not the correct date… :-S ELEVEN WHOLE DAYS LATE. *faceplants into keyboard* Sorry, everyone. :-S
16th – http://theedfiles.blogspot.com/
17th – http://butterfliesoftheimagination.wordpress.com/
18th – http://whileishouldbedoingprecal.weebly.com/
19th – http://jasperlindell.blogspot.com.au/
20th – http://allisonthewriter.wordpress.com/
21st – http://unikkelyfe.wordpress.com/
22nd – http://from-stacy.blogspot.com/
23rd – http://miriamjoywrites.com/
24th – https://introspectioncreative.wordpress.com/
25th – https://nasrielsfanfics.wordpress.com/
26th – http://stayandwatchthestars.wordpress.com/
27th – https://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com/ (We’ll announce the topic for next month’s chain.)