As this blog progresses, I’m reminded of something I discovered about my writing many years ago and realized it also had relevance to how stories are changing today with “new media.”
Long, long ago I used to keep a pocket notebook on me at all times for writing poetry. The pages were 16 lines long. Needless to say, most of my poems came out to 16, 32, or the occasional 48 lines. The media shaped the message (not to be confused with “the medium is the message,” for those that remember). As I moved from the Netflix connection to our FB account for posting reviews to this WordPress version, my reviews grew in size and detail (I refrain from saying “value” as I cannot make that call, you must).
What an artist creates is bounded by the media they are working in. Whether a type of paint, a length of page, or a character limitation of a tweet. It isn’t just that these new media provide opportunity, they actually change the way the artist thinks. Sometimes without realizing it.
With the advent of Twitter and other short burst social networking as well as the new hybrids of online/on disc/on screen approaches to stories, how and what we author is changing. The printing press freed people to distribute diatribes and leaflets with much greater ease.. not to mention newspapers and books. Now, with eBooks taking the fore, other boundaries are being lifted. It isn’t that you sit down and say, heck, I’m going to write a 1000 page fantasy novel, but knowing that there isn’t a reason you cannot, means that restriction is lifted from your thinking.
Is this good or bad or ?? When writing sonnets, the very restrictions fueled some of the greatest writing. This is where craft and creativity shine, within the rules that are set… which isn’t to say you don’t and shouldn’t break the rules. In fact, being an artist is often about knowing when to break the rules.
We already have best celling (yes, on purpose) novels sent a few hundred characters at a time via SMS to phones. And we have novel and novel universes being created (Greg Bear and Neal Stephenson’s, The Mongoliad) blurring the lines and reinventing story structure because “they can.” While the act was more conscious in this case, it was a leap made because thinking had changed.
To bring this full circle… when word processing became available and I retired my little notebook as a primary way to write, I watched my poetry expand. The ultimate expression of that was a 1000 line epic SF poem. Why? Because I couldn’t see the bottom of the page any longer… it was just a blank screen that went on forever…