Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Short form reading


                                                                       

"Old Book Side View" by Keattikorn






I was interested to hear an opinion that for a variety of reasons, readers are turning to shorter form fiction works.   I have a vested interest in supporting this position as I tend to write works that are 'on the shorter side', ie. around 50,000 words for my novels.     I wonder if one reason might be that people are busier these days and it is the rare person and the rare occasion where a 'keep reading until the last page' is possible even if it means staying up until 2 a.m. on a weekday.   I've done it myself, but not lately.

If your reading of lengthier works is done in chunks, is it more difficult to keep track of people and plot lines?   Have you ever gone back a few--or more--pages to try to remember who a certain someone is and what their connection is to the storyline?  This is particularly a problem if more than a couple of days have passed since you last picked up the book.    If a couple of weeks have gone by I find I can be in real trouble.

In the past books contained more narrative;  pages of description of settings or feelings or past events.  I believe it was a comment in response to a post by literary agent, Rachelle Gardner, where, sounding somewhat petulant, a writer  opined that the agent would turn down a book by Dostoyevsky.  (You remember, Crime and Punishment?)  Interestingly, Ms. Gardner agreed that she very well might, saying, it's not what readers today want.   On the other hand, many people still adore . . . and read . . . Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.

Maybe what people need is the leisure to read for a reasonably extended period of time, say a couple of hours, each day for a number of days.   Uninterrupted by texts or phone calls, the reader should ideally feel able to read at a languid pace, engrossing themselves in the plot, the characters and the setting.   I suspect what happens is that after a half dozen pages modern life intrudes and the spell--and train of thought--is broken.

This post on The Passive Voice seems to indicate that others have had thoughts along the same line.

How do you read?    Is that your preference or the best you can manage?   Are shorter works the answer to  more limited time and attention spans?

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