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Do we really need to read books anymore?

4 March 2018

From Medium:

The other day, I was talking to one of my younger cousins about his aspiration to become a writer in film. A friend of his parents, who has become something of a non-blood related uncle, had apparently told him that in order to succeed in the screenwriting industry, it’s important to get into the habit of writing regularly — becoming prolific from an early age can be beneficial in the same way that starting to save money from a young age can produce a large pool of savings in the future.

I totally agree with this sentiment; although I’m certainly not the best example of a prolific aspiring writer working towards her future, I’ve certainly been made well aware of the importance of writing every day in order to improve.

But what I found interesting in following up with my cousin about his aspirations to be a writer was his insistence that reading as frequently as he writes is not really important in helping him develop in his writing.

. . . .

But hearing a seventeen-year-old’s idea that watching film is more important to developing as a screenwriter made me stop and think for a second — my cousin kind of had a point. It probably does feel more beneficial for him to watch films if he aspires to write them than to engage with the exhausting tirade of classic literature thrown at him in his high school English classes.

. . . .

So to hear my cousin’s distaste for reading books struck me as strange — why would someone who feels inspired to write, like me, not feel the same pull toward reading? How else other than reading can you familiarize yourself with the tiny nuances of grammar, the fragility and importance of dialogue and scene description?

. . . .

Obviously, as someone who loves reading books, I would argue, very important. But as sad as it makes me to admit this, I can see the point of those who claim there isn’t time or they don’t have energy to devote their time to reading anything longer than a New York Times article.

Link to the rest at Medium

Books in General

6 Comments to “Do we really need to read books anymore?”

  1. A rather consistent complaint about modern film I run across of late is the lack of originality. So many new releases are remakes, or clones of classics, obviously highly derivative of other better films.
    Your cousin’s attitude, which I suspect is common to his chosen field, explains a lot of that. What he does not realize is that he is fishing in a small pond of industry raised recycled ideas while refusing to expose himself to an ocean of what might very well be the free range concept that could result in the next blockbuster.

  2. Ouch!

    Even more than the nuances or grammar, etc, I’d say the grasp of a character arc, a coherent plot, a wrapup that satisfies, yet leaves the reader/watcher hoping for a sequel RSN is important.

    I would say that dissecting movies and TV shows with a long run of popularity might help. Why are some movies riotously popular, then the next bombs? What was different? What changed?

    But seeing it in print, IMO, makes it easier to compare.

  3. “Do we really need to [read books] anymore?”

    [watch TV/movie/play/news] it’s all the same thing over and over …

    [listen to music] it’s all the same 88 notes and sometimes the screeching of a cat being strangled …

    ‘Give me a beat ah to free my soul, I wanna get lost in your rock and roll …’

    Give me a story that I can’t put down, I just have to see what happens next, so wrapped into the plot that I can’t help LOL (or shed a tear) just where the writer wanted me to …

  4. I suspect writing for film is different from writing for being read. I suspect further that there is more interference in writing for movies because more people are involved, especially producers and directors, once they get hold of the script.

  5. Do we really need to have sex anymore? There’s plenty of pornography you can watch to learn about it, isn’t there?

  6. I would prescribe (for the cousin) reading widely (including beyond the genre you want to write) and start writing screenplays.

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