The Book Industry and Movies

A lot of people like to say the phrase “Books will never die” even though some may not always believe it. Even I started to doubt it. You don’t see many people around reading classic literature unless you like to surround yourself with people that do. Most of the time I see people reading books that have been adapted into movies. Hollywood has been keeping the book market alive.

It seems like books are released with the expectations that a movie will be adapted. The main reason all comes back to money. Companies know that a book released along side a movie will make exponentially more than a stand alone book. Just think about all the book movies lately: Divergent, Hunger Games, Fifty Shades of Gray, Enders Game, Twilight, Fault in Our Stars, Wild, The Hobbit, American Sniper, The Giver, Gone Girl, Paper Towns, Maze Runner, ect.

Releasing a movie based on a book appeals to more audiences. Many people feel they have to read the book before watching the movie to better judge it, or others will go buy the book just to say it was better than the movie. The movie trailers create hype for the movie and advertise the book at the same time. Movie editions of books are often released with the movie poster on the cover instead of the original design. It just makes more money that way.

The Fault In Our Stars movie grossed over 124 million dollars and the books sold over 1.8 million copies.
The Fault In Our Stars movie grossed over 124 million dollars and the books sold over 1.8 million copies.

So is this necessarily a good thing? I’m not sure if getting more people to read Fifty Shades of Gray and Twilight is a huge priority. But at least it gets people to read more. If people start reading more because of the movies about them, maybe they’ll like them so much they’ll branch out to different books. For instance someone could read Hunger games and love it so much they look for more dystopian novels like it, maybe 1984 or Anthem. Or someone could read Fault in Our Stars and then go read Catcher in the Rye because how much it influenced John Green. This isn’t going to happen every time but it’s a start.

The next goal would be to get people to read books without seeing the movie as an incentive. One suggestion I would have for this would be to expose reading to children at an early age. Read every night to a child, even if they’re too young to understand it, but later on it will make sense to them. Or in middle school make reading fun for the children. Pick a socially accepted and popular book. Let’s say right now it would be Fault in Our Stars. I’m guessing a good amount of the students would be excited to read that book. Afterwards talk about the book and what influenced the author to write it the way they did. Then later on in the class you can have them read Catcher in the Rye, or some other academically accepted novel, and explain the parallels between the two. Doing this will create a basis for which the students can actually appreciate the novel.

If you’re trying to influence an adult to start reading, pay attention to what media they consume. If they watch nothing but Doctor Who or Battlestar Galactica, suggest a sci-fi novel for them. Something close enough that it will pique their interest. Or if they watch Game of Thrones try getting them to read the books the show is based on or other fantasy books.

Movies have done a lot of good towards books. They boost sales and make people genuinely excited to read again, but if a person only reads books a movie is based on then they’re severely limiting themselves. In fact reading may actually be dead if it weren’t for Hollywood acting as a crutch for the book industry. No matter what the content is, the more people reading the better.

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Writing Advice: Listening to Music

I actively read through a variety of writing related forums- which sounds worse when I actually say it- and at least every other day I see something about writing while listening to music. It’s almost trivial that people are too afraid to give it a try, like somehow it’s condemning their writing career if they do it without asking first. So I’m going to compile a list of the pros and cons.

Pros

  • The noise is good for some people. For many people it’s easier to concentrate with noise in the background to tune out so they can focus on their work.
  • Music can set the mood for writing. For instance if you’re writing a story set in the south and you pop on some blues or country, many find it well change their mood and get them in the right state of mind. This can work with themes as well. If you’re writing about poverty, for instance, listening to rustic bluesmen sing about ain’t gotting no spare change then you’ll definitely translate that into you’re writing.
  • Many people can find inspiration in music. If it’s the themes of the music, the images it portrays, or the overall mood and attitude, there’s always something to take away from it. Whether it affects your writing on a sentence by sentence scale or by impacting the entire story it can be a positive.

Cons

  • Many people can’t work with background noise. It all depends on the type of person you are.
  • Sometimes it’s good not to have distractions. Even if you can work with background noise, that doesn’t mean you should. There are times when you need to buckle down, eliminate all distractions and just write. In this instance, you should not listen to music.
  • It’s easy to make it more about the music. In this sense it’s about procrastination. It may take hours for some people to find the perfect music, create the perfect playlist, or get in the perfect mood before they start writing. Oh you can go to skip the next song and find yourself cleaning up the music folders on your computer moments later.

So there’s that. It all really depends on knowing yourself and what works best with you. Don’t be afraid to try new things. If you try it and it doesn’t work, you lost maybe five minutes, for which you can blame me.

If listening to music does happen to work with you, I have some more advice. A way to reduce the amount of distraction is by listening to music without words, or at least just long instrumental sections. Finding movie soundtracks and game soundtracks you like is a good first step to this. For a good period the only thing I listened to while writing was Echoes and Atom Heart Mother Suite, both by Pink Floyd. Then The Endless River came out and I stopped listening to anything else. One band I’ve noticed is very popular with writers would be Explosions in the Sky. They’re a purely instrumental band with some of the most beautiful and elegant modern music I’ve ever heard.

This goes back to the second pro I listed, but try to fit the genre you’re writing. If you’re writing an epic fantasy novel, maybe give the Skyrim or the Lord of the Rings soundtrack a listen. Or if you’re writing a space sci-fi adventure, you can’t go wrong with the Halo or Star Wars soundtrack. It’s all about trying to get those influences to rub off onto you’re writing.

Writing Advice: Editing Steps

I recently started editing the rough first draft of my novel, and boy is it rough. I don’t remember being that bad of a writer when I started on that project. But, that doesn’t exactly matter because it’s only the edited work that people see. I’ve used this method on a few of my short stories and it’s always served me well. So, here are my steps to editing your writing.

  1. General Editing: This where you go through and edit any spelling mistakes, take out any superficial words, any punctuation errors, grammar, and other proofreading fixes.
  2. Flow: It’s important that your story has a certain flow and rhythm to it. Go through and read each sentence aloud as if you’re reading it in front of a class, or you can put the text through text-to-speech software. Add punctuation, cut individual words, or add entire sentences so it reads better. Any awkward spots, or sections that don’t quite make sense, or anything too cluttered should be reworked or cut.
  3. Story: Now that the text has been worked out, it’s time to work on the story. Go through and ask yourself if each decision or reaction from a character makes sense. Did their personalities stay consistent throughout? What about their mannerisms? Take a step back from the text and think about every little thing in the story. Is it believable? Did it achieve the affect intended, and, if not, what can be changed to get this desired affect? The story should resonate with the reader but too many unbelievable scenarios or fake emotions is off-putting.
  4. Feedback: Now that the story is complete, or at least you think it is, it’s time to get some feedback on it. You can ask anyone really. Maybe you and your friends can trade stories for a critique or ask your significant other, or if you really don’t know anyone interested there’s always people on the internet that give a good critique. For reddit users, /r/Writing has a popular weekly critique thread, or there’s dedicated feedback subreddits such as /r/KeepWriting and of course /r/DestructiveReaders. But please not: if you are going to submit here please offer a critique to a previous poster so everyone gets feedback. Once you’ve gotten feedback on your story take consideration for each suggestion. Pick and choose which suggestions would work and which things you want to stay the same. Whether it be word choice or story points, it’s still your story. Feedback can be helpful but it’s still only one person’s suggestion.
  5. Finalize: So this is it. You’ve edited everything to perfection and gotten feedback on it. Your writing is tight and the story is believable/enjoyable. It never hurts to read it one last time to yourself or put it through another text-to-speech processor. But once this is done what next? Well you can pat yourself on the back and move on to the next project, you can submit it to websites such as Booksie, Deviantart, or Writers Cafe (Please note these websites are always hit or miss with things like readers, feedback, quality and overall satisfaction), or you can submit it to different literary journals for consideration and spread your story to more readers.

A few more general notes. People always say that openings need to be engaging and catch the readers attention, but rarely do people explain this. It doesn’t always have to mean your story should open with a gunfight or huge explosions, just some sort of enticing verb. Something that immediately puts an image in the readers mind and opens up their interest to learn more.

Endings should be memorable. I love the feeling when I put down a book and it’s like I was just punched in the stomach. Make the reader feel something, put them in shock and awe and disbelief. There doesn’t have to be a twist ending for this but just something that will last with them. It’s no good if after the climax a story teeters off and dies out at the end, it needs to be consistent.

One last thing. Writing is your art. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Don’t be afraid to change perspectives or say something controversial, art is not apologetic.

Evolution of Entertainment (The Death of Books)

It’s been a while since anyone’s walked down the street and found someone reciting The Iliad in classic oral tradition. It’s not hard to tell why: it’s irrelevant today. Not the story of The Iliad, but the oral tradition of it. Today we have things like podcasts and movies, we don’t need people telling the story like that. One thing has remained constant though, and that’s books.

It’s easy for someone to say that the art of poetry is dead, and in many ways it is, but it still lives strongly today. It simply evolved. Modern poetry is consumed through song lyrics. There truly is some lyrics out there that read like beautiful poetry and are only intensified by the music backing them. Now, I’m not saying that the newest 2Chainz rap is poetry, but there are better examples.

The same goes for theater. Chances are at some point students will be forced to read Shakespeare or any other playwright. And now all the playwrights haven’t simply died and gone away, they just evolved into screenwriters. One of the great improvements of technology is the ability to be lazy. Before, plays would have to be scheduled for specific times on certain days. If you missed the play for whatever reason it was gone. But with television and movies you can record the video or purchase it to watch later. Of course there’s still a few plays out on broadway, same thing with how there’s still a few poets out there, but the majority of them have moved to their evolved mediums.

That leaves the issue of books. Books really have been around for a long time. I don’t need to explain how old books are or how crucial they’ve been to the development of society. For the most part books have remained constant in the way they are presented. The only real way to challenge that is with the development of E-books, which isn’t exactly the evolution of a new medium but simply a new way to present the same thing. So will anything replace books?

I get skeptical when I hear someone saying books are dead. Books have become a crucial part of our society, if not already a part of our human nature. That’s why books are not dead, at least not for now. I can’t see anything coming along that would fully replace books as a source of entertainment. Nothing else is able to allow the imagination to set its own stage and create its own environment quite like a book does. Even if less people are reading, or how big the other forms of entertainment are, books will live as long as humans live.

To Be Objective

I see a great deal of writing being wasted on the idea that the whole of the content should strive to be as objective as possible. Everything from journalism to philosophy to teaching should be objective. Of course that sounds ideal, but it isn’t actually possible.

To truly be objective would be to say nothing at all. As long as every article, lesson, book, and news piece is written for a purpose then it is biased just in the basis that it was written. We as people are very opinionated. Even if we know practically nothing on a subject, we still have an opinion on it.

You can say that a news article can show no clear bias towards one side or another, but that’s only what you see. Say we have two events, A and B. News agencies can choose to cover event A but not B and immediately fail at being objective by ignoring the second event. They are showing bias towards the first subject but not the other. This is part of the reason why many events are not displayed in the news even though having a great deal of importance. And since every single topic out there cannot be covered in detail, it shall remain biased.

This model can be applied to other subjects. The point is not to strive for objectiveness, but to admit your biases. Know your biases and have a clear understanding of what they are. Something that is a fact to you will always be a lie to another.