For the Narcissist Lover in You…

One Film, Two Directors (or) Why I Write the Details


I watched this and thought, this is how I write.

I love including the extra details, the little diversions that temporarily distract us from the story, but somehow deepen it when we come back to it. An agent once returned a manuscript of mine with the complaint, “Excellent line by line writing. There’s just too much of it”. I know that’s the style these days– no fat, just plot. But that’s not what I like to read, and therefore it isn’t what I write.

Film or writing fans, this is an extremely interesting comparison of the same film edited by two famous but completely different directors.


2 responses

  1. Hester

    I watched this with great interest and, vis-a-vis our recent conversation, I see the point.

    Much of what is considered “great” (or even good) literature, would likely never find a publisher in today’s market … just too many words. Surrounded by a world of “sound-bytes”, dare I say readers have no time or desire for the little things? Or maybe they just never learned how to revel in the details? But for whatever reason, they don’t.

    In the end, (as always) it is about choices. Do I want to tell the story I want to tell or do I tell one that does well at the box office or the bookstore?

    I would like to think that both could be achieved but, sadly, that doesn’t happen very often.

    May 18, 2013 at 2:04 pm

  2. Unquestionably, a writer does often need to “kill what he loves”, lopping off bits of the story that don’t add anything meaningful, or do so clumsily. A beta reader of mine recently suggested that for a bit of my current story, and frankly, I think she’s right in that instance.

    But in general, I like a story that feels like a luxurious, meandering journey rather than a rush to the destination. Sure, the reader (including me) may sometimes say “are we there yet??” but the best authors, in my opine, are the ones who don’t give in to the temptation to take the highway.

    The best authors are the ones who say “see that old schoolhouse over there? It was built in 1953 and the protagonist’s grandfather was the site foreman. He laid the cornerstone. The protagonist doesn’t know it– he only remembers his grandfather as a hazy memory on a hot summer Sunday the day the old man died of a heart attack while cleaning his gutters. Joe Protagonist passed that cornerstone for six years and never knew it connected him to the grandfather he barely knew.”

    It may never even come up again in the story (although it often, surprisingly, does) but it adds depth, it makes the story feel roomy, sprawling, full of details and history and secrets. It makes the story more real.

    That’s what modern stories, methinks, miss the most.

    May 18, 2013 at 2:35 pm

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