April 26, 2014
Despite trends and statistics, books will always be superior to film. There is an exercise I like people to try whenever I speak at a creative writing class or an author panel. Give it a try.
There is a man standing in the doorway. He has his arms crossed and the wooden frame supports the bulk of his weight where his shoulder rests. Long swimmer’s limbs suggest he could easily add on muscle, but the mischievous glint in his eye hints that there are more important things to occupy his time than lifting weights. A few days stubble and hair that seems perpetually in need of cutting are slovenly attributes he uses to his advantage. A smirk travels up one side of his face, crinkling and bunching at the corner of his eye. He chuckles, and shaking his head, walks away.
All right, you have this man firmly pictured in your mind, correct? One paragraph of description that makes him wholly unique to you – the reader. Your experiences, attention, and memory make him distinct. Perhaps your man had a scar? Blue eyes? Was he black or white? All of those details were filled in by your imagination.
Now. Lets take that paragraph and make it into a movie. Are you ready for the Hollywood screenplay?
Brad Pitt stands in a doorway.
There may be minor alterations, but for the most part you are all picturing the same thing. If it were on the screen you would all be seeing the exact same thing down to the same shirt, shoes, jeans, face, build, and every little detail that can be spoon-fed to your mind.
Everyone born with the sense of sight can watch a movie. Reading is a skill we are taught. Since skill is required, a book will always be superior to a movie.