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05 January 2013 @ 07:55 pm
Novel Gazing  
I got lost in a quandary today, and then made it all the more confusing by trying to explain it before I understood it. The basic thrust of it was this:

When I'm making something up, I'm imaging a scene. I see the colors, the lighting, staging, action, angle changes. Sometimes I can even hear the dialogue, the soundtrack, or the ambient noise. I see it as if I had watched it on film, or even directed it. The difficulty is, I'm a writer. I'm not a great photographer, painter or cinematographer. The best way I've found to convey my ideas (so far) is to write them down, or tell other people about them - similarly, through words.

So that imaginary visual medium has to be crudely converted into a literary one. At best, I can hope to convey the same mood and actions that I originally envisioned. Which is also something I really love about reading. I love that many people can read the same book and come away with different opinions about what something looked like, or even represented within the same story. There's an enormous amount of personal control you happily relinquish as a writer that isn't found as much in other mediums. But still, I feel like I'm leaving the description incomplete by not including every stage direction or the exact way the heroine had her hair, even if doesn't contribute to the structure of the story. But if I were a director...

There is that part of me, the part that would really love to do a one-to-one transfer - taking the production from my head to a screenplay and storyboard, then to set and editing bay and movie screen. Unfortunately, that is also the part that really, really doesn't want to deal with actors, or producers. I'm lousy at explaining exactly what I want, or translating it for other people. Right now I'm content just to put the ideas in people's heads, even if they aren't exactly what's in mine.

Though I wonder if the Great Writers, or people who have been writing for longer than I have, imagine stories as pictures in their heads, or if they imagine just the right simile to describe what they mean? Do they dream with their eyes or their words? And do you become more literate with time, or do you forever have to transcribe your own imaginary-cinematics?

ETA: From The New York Times article on George Saunders, Saunders imparts:

“The chances of a person breaking through their own habits and sloth and limited mind to actually write something that gets out there and matters to people are slim.” But it’s a mistake, he added, to think of writing programs in terms that are “too narrowly careerist. . . . Even for those thousands of young people who don’t get something out there, the process is still a noble one — the process of trying to say something, of working through craft issues and the worldview issues and the ego issues — all of this is character-building, and, God forbid, everything we do should have concrete career results. I’ve seen time and time again the way that the process of trying to say something dignifies and improves a person.”

Worthwhile to remember.
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BGEbehindgrey_eyes on January 6th, 2013 12:35 pm (UTC)
I hear ya on the seeing things so vividly. I'm a very visual person anyway so images are just how I work. Unfortunately they just generally get stuck in my head and I can't find a way to accurately express it in writing and I just get annoyed XD
Abigail: TV•The Simpsons•WUH?mdmbrightside on January 6th, 2013 01:05 pm (UTC)
Exactly! I see it all so clearly, and trying to put it into words makes it something other than what it is. When are those dream recorders going to go into production? We could make our own movies so quickly and cheaply!