Peter Suderman, in a Slate article titled, “Save the Movie,” last July, makes the case that Hollywood has become too reliant on Blake Synder’s script writing “formula” revealed in the 2005 book, Save the Cat. By so doing, movies all feel the same and creativity is suppressed. Because of the formula’s success and the movie studio’s reliance upon its blockbuster-producing ability to mitigate financial risk, very few “Driving Miss Daisy” type movies get made now. If they do, they find it hard to gain traction.
I got to thinking about not only how this has affected movie script writing, but the written story.
Have we been trained over the last few years by movies to only like certain styles of story-telling?
Back in the 70s, as a teen, I devoured with great interest lots of science fiction and fantasy like Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series. I don’t recall being bored with it at all. A few years ago, I picked up Foundations again and read it. I found myself growing tired of it and wanting it to hurry up and end. Where did the excitement I had as a teen go?
Could it be that movies and TV have trained us to only appreciate books with similar pacing and feel? Could their story-telling formulas be influencing what readers want and expect in novels?
Consider these other changes. Omniscient used to be the reigning point of view prior to the 70s. Telling used to not be so frowned upon as a way to tell a story. The first acts tended to go on longer before requiring “action” or plot movement back in the day.
One could probably point to varied reasons for these changes, but is it more than coincidence that as the movement to quicker cuts, like in the 1967 The Monkees TV series, and blockbuster pacing has become mainstream over the years that our reading tastes have morphed to reflect that subconscious training?
Then we have to wonder, is the expectation for a “page-turner” novel causing a reduction of creativity in modern writing? A lack of a unique voice?
If so, is this an opportunity or danger for Christian Speculative Fiction?
How do you feel visual media has impacted both story-telling and reader’s expectations?