Monday, 8 August 2011

How much is too much?


Love it or loathe it, it seems to be everywhere you look these days - filmmakers are relying upon shock tactics to seize the attention of their jaded audiences, so blasé and disenchanted with the tactics of old. 

But for me, it's the literary that entrances me as opposed to the visual portrayal of a story played out on screen. I have as keen an appreciation for what I see with my eyes as the next person, but when it comes to a tale to be told, I far prefer that to be sketched out on paper to take flight in my own imagination.

As I was working on a piece of horror last night, I had an internal struggle over precisely how detailed I should make that sketch. Should I put all my effort into exhaustively detailing even the smallest of details down onto the page, using the same tactics as those aforementioned filmmakers, or is it better for an author to trust in their reader and allow the story to come to life in their mind, even if by doing so it might not be quite as you intended it to be?

Does it even matter so long as the reader enjoys the story?

I debated with myself until late into the night, and then finally, earlier this morning, I reached a conclusive answer by approaching the question as a reader, not only an author. What I love most when reading a story is becoming engrossed in it, watching the characters and the storyline come to life in my head. If the author is overly florid or extreme in their descriptions, then I find myself drifting away from the plot, and I think that when that happens, some of the psychological impact of what you read is inevitably lost.

Going back through the draft this morning, I pared down the gore until it was almost non-existent, and I found myself with a final edit that I felt worked far better as a horror tale.

So, which side of the fence do you come down upon? Are you convinced that for a reader to be truly scared in this modernised and doubting age, you simply have to throw everything at them? Or do you, like me, still trust in the reader's imagination to do your tale justice?

K x

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