|Photo by Sarah Ross photography|
Why consume stories through literature rather than film? What exactly are the differences? And why would anyone want to write? It's a daunting job. It's also mostly invisible. Like a musician, the final result is the result of thousands of hours of work no one sees or hears. Why you do it is something you have to ask yourself. All I can answer is why I do it.
Why do I read?
I don't know precisely why I do it, but I have a good idea. I know why I enjoy reading stories. While I wouldn't necessarily say it's my favorite way to consume stories, it's different from any other method.
A good writer can draw me in to the point that I forget I'm reading. Stephen King said that the writer/reader relationship is the closest thing to telepathy that we have. After all, you are literally transferring thoughts through the written word.
And while you can get lost in a movie, fiction is, ironically, more sensual. Yes, you can see and hear a film, but a truly transcendental novel can make you see, hear, smell, touch, and taste it's world. I've never lost myself in a movie the way I've lost myself in a good book.
Aside from that, a truly great novel brings the reader into the mind of the protagonist in a way that's nearly impossible with other mediums. I find that I can empathize better with characters in prose than I can in a movie or video game, even if it's a silent protagonist like Portal and I might as well be the main character.
To be fair, I love all entertainment mediums. I dig watching a Tarantino movie as much as the next guy (actually, probably more since I loved both Kill Bills and even dug Death Proof); but the things I love about film are different. Great dialogue is prevalent in great writing, but it lacks the reflexes of an audio recording.
In fact, anything relying on timing is left more up to the reader than the writer. For example, I read slow. Long drawn-out fight scenes tend to bore me to tears when written, especially if they're the kind of thing that a film can show in just a few seconds.
Why do I write?
I lose myself reading, but I've never lost myself in reading the way I have writing. Every time I sit down with a pen, paper, and a clear schedule, I find myself discovering, not creating, but discovering characters who've never existed. In an instant, I know everything about them, like where they grew up, what in their life pushed them where they are, and I watch as the story develops itself. I'm not creating worlds. I'm transcribing them.
But also, I love the written word. I love poetry that knocks my socks off and anytime I find something beautiful in a story, I scribble it on a note card and tape it to my wall. My office looks like an asylum.
More personally, though, I love to write because of the control it gives me. I doubt you'll find a writer who isn't some sort of control freak, whether it's the obsessively OCD kind who keep their pantry alphabetized or the manipulative person subtly giving hints to the significant other about how to fix a certain undesirable quirk. "Yeah, we could go to the drive-thru, but then we'd need to log a couple more hours at the gym. Wouldn't we?"
Being able to control fictional characters is a type of puppet-mastery akin to playing God. Of course, sometimes your characters don't do what you wanted them to. It's nice to see my characters do what I want. But it's amazing when they do something I'd never considered.
That's why I write. Now it's your turn to answer.