Random Inspirations

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“You Are a Cinema”: Why Books Have Become More Like Movies

on March 28, 2013


As writers, we’re sometimes so enveloped in our word games that we forget we’re entertainers, too. Sure, some people read to become more informed and educated, but many, especially in my audience (YA) pick up a book purely for entertainment purposes.

In today’s endless stream of TV, movies, and social networks, books have more competition than ever. Luckily, the widespread use of tablets and e-readers has enabled reading to become more tech-y, fresh, and fun!

The physical manifestation of books hasn’t been the only thing to change. The basic literary structure of commercial fiction has evolved as well, with books becoming more like movies.


Today’s writing gurus eschew traditional elements of storyline, such as backstory. The novels of yesteryear began with lengthy sections of backstory: where the main characters came from, what they looked like, and what their life stories were. Modern writers drop their readers right into the action, filling in bits and pieces of backstory later. Just as movie-goers walk out of a slow-starting film, today’s readers, agents, and editors quickly lose interest in books with tons of backstory.

Character dialogue, interior monologues, and descriptive sections in today’s literature also mirror movies in pace and language. The flowery prose of our writing forefathers has been replaced by snappy dialogue and fast-flowing action. Today’s authors don’t underestimate readers’ intelligence by spoon-feeding them all the descriptive details of a scene; instead, they stretch readers’ imaginations by encouraging readers to fill in the blanks. In this way, readers become more engaged.

Even the chapter structure has become shorter, like scenes of a movie. Some classic novels feature chapters that drag on and on…but today, two or three-page chapters aren’t out of the ordinary and five-page chapters are the norm. Novels are broken up into smaller, more manageable chunks, and given the information overload we all face today, that can only be a good thing.

And finally, many authors are filming “trailers” of their novels before launching them.  Book trailers pump up the existing fans, and the searchability of YouTube expands the fan base further. Book trailers may not be as hyped as movie trailers, but they certainly get the word out and generate buzz for today’s exciting new works of literature!

the end


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