How movies changed fiction writing

Anyone who has read 19th century and early 20th century literature knows there is a stylistic change in writing before movies were born and post cinema fiction.

In short the narrative before movies was lengthy. Writers like Herman Melville were paid for the word, something that always made me suspicious in “Moby Dick” when Melville left the fictional narrative and went into a long non-fictional account on whaling. In a word, or I should say three-I was bored. I like the stories of Edgar Allen Poe, but some of his stories are a bit cumbersome.

The point is the pacing is slow, at least compared to todays fiction where narrative is less wordy. In the days before movies there was not much thought to pacing and it was not considered slow, because the pace of life was slower. There was no TV, no movies, no radio. Reading was entertainment and nobody was in a hurry.

But movies tell stories quickly and writers adapted. Pacing changed. In fact writers adapted movies jump cuts and other editing devices to the art of writing. Read the works of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett and you see q quickened pace, the scenes visual, as if coming from a movie script. Fiction writers were making us see rather than making us think, at least think in 19th century terms.

This is a broad statement of course as there were still writers who succeeded without adapting to the new style, but change is evolutionary and the genre of thriller where the action is fast and furious is certainly derived from the movies. Writers began to write in ways that made their books easily adapted for movies and that meant a faster pace.

And there is a change of late called flash fiction, which is neither short story, novella, or novel, but as a flash it captures a moment in time. This is because of computers and an audience who want something brief and to the point. The question is whether this is the next evolutionary step in fiction, or just another addition.

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Filed under dalies, e-book publishing, fiction, fiction writing, Uncategorized, writers, writing

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