As a writer, I often get the opportunity to converse with readers and learn what they like or dislike in books.
Over the past few years, too many of the readers I encountered are of an unusually impatient variety.
They have neither the temperament to endure the few pages, and occasionally chapters, of descriptive background a good book might need before the plot takes over, nor do they have the ability to appreciate the mood that needs to be bolstered by the seemingly insignificant details in the background of the story.
These are the kind of people who think Edgar Allan Poe is dull and Agatha Christie is slow. Well, not that Christie isn’t slow, but that is part of her charm.
It may seem odd, but I believe this impatience is borne out of mental lethargy. Minds that have been benumbed by decades of cinematic indulgence.
Think about it. If I want to talk about a secluded cabin in the woods, it would take me hundreds of words to make the reader understand the extent and limits of its seclusion. In contrast, a movie can do that in a single still, and cover the cabin, the woods, the weather, the sky, everything you could want and more.
After all, they are not stupid to say that a picture is worth a thousand words.
But in a book, there are only words. And this is exactly why we need thousands of them to tell our story.
If only each reader could differentiate the subtitles of a movie from a book…