“Most of our readers are novelists. What can you tell us about writing for television/film that can help us become better novelists?
My theory, completely unsupported by any empirical evidence, is that the way people read is changing. Maybe it’s always changing, but certainly with the growth of film and television as the dominant cultural expression in the twentieth century, and the rapid rise of blogging and texting in this new century, the way people receive information and express themselves and process cultural mythology must mean that novelists need to adapt to new kinds of narrative.
People have shorter attention spans. They’ve become used to processing information in a scattered, almost holographic way. I have a pet peeve about novelists turning their manuscripts into auditions for feature films, but I do think that the modern novel has to acknowledge that storytelling has been profoundly affected by the way film and television has, (sometimes detrimentally), altered the way we expect stories to engage us.
If there is one lesson you’ve taught to writing students over the years that you want them to GET, that you consider to be a key to writing success, what is it? Feel free to give us more than one.
Get a good chair.
It’s hard. Get over it.
Don’t give up.
Don’t settle — try to write as well as you possibly can. And then better than that, next time.
Write what you love to read.
Be willing to do it for free – because you’ll probably have to.”