Wednesday, 23 March 2011

The 10 Minute Difference - Why Films Are Not Like Prose

I use films as references a lot, mainly because I think people are more likely to have seen the same films as me, rather than read the same books so the examples will have wider resonance. But there's one area which you shouldn't take films as your 'how to' guide, and that's the beginning.

Think about how you choose to see a film. You look at the cover. You look at the reviews. You may see some carefully chosen clips. And then you decide to watch it. You buy cinema tickets or the DVD.

Compare with a novel. You look at the cover. You look at the reviews. Then, if you're in the bookshop, you look at the first page and start reading. If you like it, you then buy it. In other words, you can test the product before you invest your money in it.

When you get round to watching the film, you're going to give it at least ten minutes before deciding if it's any good or not. So the film maker has about ten minutes to do any story set up before your attention is going to wander. The novel or story, in contrast, has to earn your attention right from the start or you won't be investing in it. The storytelling must begin on page 1.

NEW!!! I've finally got round to organising some course dates....
How to WRITE a Novel: London 3rd May/Birmingham 7th May/
Oxford 8th May/Exeter 21st May/Bath 12th June
How to SELL a Novel: London 24th May/Exeter 4th June/


Jim Murdoch said...

What about film trailers and now book trailers?

Sarah Duncan said...

They're selecting the best bits to lure you in, but you still have to watch 10 minutes of the film to make a proper judgement, whereas people can and do judge the book on the basis of the first couple of pages.