♦Welcome to another edition of the Open Book Blog Hop!♦
Does anyone write stream of consciousness or capers
anymore, or has the Hollywood hero’s journey ruined that?
Welcome back to another Open Book Blog Hop! The authors included in this ongoing series wish to thank you for your reads. We appreciate, even more so, when you share our writings with your friends. If you’re new to the series, welcome aboard. The authors engage and impress weekly. Prepare to become a regular reader.
If you’ve read my blog before, you know I write both fiction novels and screenplays. Having a foot in both worlds is weird, but for me it works. I know that film studios would like to think their media is so vastly different from the publishing houses productions, but they’re both in the business of storytelling. I feel that books, although they have the room to tell more story than a film that is a few hours in length, are becoming vastly more narrow in scope.
The reason: books are expected to use penny-wise words in today’s market. You must make them sleek and of few words. That, to me, makes no sense. But why is this? I have seen editors and writers alike suggest it is the reader. However, after studying film and the adaptation of books, I have learned from the inside that it’s about creating more easily adaptable books for a book to film pipeline.
Basically, publishing companies seek books that can expand their bottom line through the addition of other connected media. Film studios who gobble up ideas like popcorn are all in for it! (Don’t let me misguide you with what I said. It isn’t easy to get your book anywhere near the book-to-script pipeline. That route is pretty exclusive to publishers and studios. Without representation, or following certain steps to gain a reputation, it’s not going to magically happen–unless you wrote a 50 Shades best-seller they want to get in on.)
Capers in the book genre are still very much published and written actively today. I know a few authors who write in this area. Technically speaking, OP-DEC could be considered a dark spy thriller caper. I just register it under military, historical, thriller instead. You have to make your choices. With Blue Honor already filed as a military historical drama, I wanted to market the books near one another. It’s a smart move, if you understand marketing.
Stream of consciousness is something I feel has lost vogue outside of arthouse film and independent writing. Have you ever read stream of consciousness? As I Lay Dying (Faulkner) is all I remember in this genre and I read the story a long time (90s High School). Correct me if I am wrong, SC writers. Let’s hear from you. I would love to put together a feature to highlight your work (hit me up on the contact sheet).
Most arthouse films follow a similar technique. For some reason, I really love them. Art house can be so weird, edgy, even dangerous. It simply isn’t mainstream and that contrast is exciting–sort of like the difference between ready-to-wear and fashion art shows. People think they get it and poke fun at the artistic fashions as ridiculous, but they really don’t get it. It’s not meant to follow convention. Often, absurdity is the point. Challenging what is acceptable is always the point.
The hero’s journey has existed since Ovid. Hollywood has only banked on the human desire to hear these extraordinary tales. It’s amusing that the term to define such tales as Metamorphoses and The Odyssey wasn’t coined until 1871. That’s got to be news to Hercules! What Hollywood has done is try to make writers write within a formula: Save the Cat. I hate this book. It killed creative screenplays for decades. This is why so many complain about formula and every mainstream movie being a cookie cutter copy of the last.
Save the Cat saves money. It provides studios a way to have staff writers produce content to keep them in the black. The staff writers don’t have to be that creative or put in that much effort, either. The formula is tried and true. You basically create like Mad Libs. At least it was until they used it too much and people have gotten bored. Once the market is saturated, there really is no point in creating further products that copy what’s there.
What people read and what they watch can differ. The delivery method for the media often influences this. Capers may be more popular on film because they’re often humorous little escapes or exciting roller coasters. Reading them makes the unfolding of the story much slower, and it may not be as exciting because of that reading pace.
This is another reason to be frugal with word use. Pace matters, and it can be inhibited by wordiness. (Capers are reliant on that pace moving at a good clip throughout the book.) Feedback on Lord of the Rings (a prime example of the Hero’s journey) often speaks on the pacing and how Tolkien was too lengthy in areas he should have condensed better. The films played better with audiences, who were reluctant because of the 3+ hours runtime, but the books remain largely the purview of a specific (narrow) readership.
You can’t please everyone, because there is always a portion of the potential audience who prefers shorts like a television series or short film. They’re often not avid readers due to the time investment of books. Genre doesn’t matter to them. Thus, whether a book is a caper or not doesn’t matter much to them. They’re asking: how long is the book?
Don’t worry about people who don’t read. Worry about those who do, and how to market your work to them. Also, think about the films in the same genre (whether capers or journeys) and how they were sold to audiences. If Save The Cat works for studios, why not save the ad working for authors?
Let’s check out what the other authors have to say about the capers question. Click their links below…
You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!Click here to enter
P.J. MacLayne says
The other thing to consider is that people’s reading habits have changed. They are less likely to put in the time to read stream of consciousness, because their reading time is limited. Action novels can be picked up and put down without losing the train of thought until the next reading burst.
Captain Maiel says
Stream of consciousness is kind of off putting–it’s strange, and confusing, but also the insight into the mind makes it slightly horrific. Most people want an escape from their headspace, not a date with it, so they seek out reading that is escapism.
Richard Dee says
My Andorra Pett mysteries would qualify as capers. I hate formula, in any art, which is why I put an amateur detective in space, it seemed like a bit of a change from the normal setting.
Captain Maiel says
I think that is such an amazing idea. Do readers like it? I think I would love it.
phil huston says
I mentioned elsewhere that SOC is an art form. Unless practiced and delivered by an artist it has become, as you say, a catch-all for “art school” productions.
If you ever use the word basically again anywhere but dialog, I will send you a bill for $5 payable to your favorite charity, like the society to prevent authors from using throwaways.
“Save the Cat” is true enough. All one needs to do is watch, and binge watching has made it more obvious. Would that be obviouser? In one season pick four procedurals from around the world and there’s a parachute malfunction murder, a bike race murder, ad nauseam. Change accents and locale and it’s the procedural formula, new gimmick. Good Lord, look at the success of Canada’s Murdoch. I often sit in wonderment “Who wrote this crap?” I hark back to what happened to “Justified” when Elmore Leonard died. Regardless of the screenwriting crew, no one on board had that “thing” a lifelong caper writer has to not fall into hackneyed territory.
SOC is an art, Caper is the skill to fly (write) character driven without a net.
Captain Maiel says
TV is killing me lately. This is why I was pleased as punch about Netflix picking up artists from around the globe to produce their odd ducks–like Dark. The only good stuff that avoids formula, I swear to gahd, is in indie.