Words are our lifeblood, us writers. We create people, settings, landscapes all through the power of the carefully chosen word. We hope that what the words conjure up in our heads do the same for others. When I describe a character, I know what I see. But what about readers? Are they seeing the same person? A variation? Something quite different?
I was thinking this as I was talking to someone about the video trailer for PORT CITY BLACK AND WHITE. This person said he really liked it. He hasn’t read my books but says he will, now that he’s seen the video. I hope he does (gotta recoup my investment) but I wonder what he’ll see if he reads the book. We’ll he see the images in the video? Have I cheated? With the video, have I bypassed some part of the process of imagination?
You can watch it here. It’s kind of a mood piece. The loose idea was to contrast the good parts of the city (Portland, Maine) setting with the bad, day with night, tourists with gangbangers, a summer idyll with summer danger. And provide a little enticement. A little entertainment. A little suspense. It was a lot of fun to write the script, fun to watch the filming, interesting to help videographer Curt Shaput with the editing. The hero of the book, rookie cop Brandon Blake, isn’t in it. I got a cameo but, hey, I was in charge. I guess that’s how Alfred Hitchcock got his walk-throughs.
When I did this for my previous book, DAMAGED GOODS, I got a rather angry complaint from a reader. I think he was in Australia. He said he watched two seconds, saw that it was some sort of dramatization of the novel, and clicked it off. He could imagine the book himself. He didn’t need my visuals interfering with the ones in his head. Thank you very much.
I wonder though. In our visual age, will it more and more take enticing images to drive people to the written word? Which comes first, the movie or the book? Likes on YouTube or a likes from a librarian? And can visual images really duplicate the stuff we picture in our heads? Are they the same thing at all?
Just mulling here. I’d love to hear what you think.
And P.S. We’re going to be awarding free books (our own) to selected commenters so don’t be shy.