Thursday, January 12, 2012

Another little ebook revelation: The format dictates in part the content

If I notice anything more, I'll try and let you know.  It's funny how the medium can affect the message! Well, I guess someone else came up with that formulation before I did.
I'm really interested in how paragraphs organize information in fiction. It's not as apparent as in non-fiction, but as an editor, I've gotten really sensitive to what belongs in a paragraph, and what should start a new paragraph. Will shorter paragraphs affect this? I don't know. I know writers think mostly one-sentence paragraphs are more "forceful" and "fast-paced," and they get mad when I say it makes stories sound juvenile and bombastic-- all assertion (topic sentence) and no evidence (rest of paragraph)!
Oh, one other thing about e-reading-- it's much harder to "flip back" to an earlier point in an ebook. (This is also true in audiobooks. I think if I missed something, oh, well. Too much trouble to find it.) I wonder if this will mean that we writers will get a bit more CLEAR in our narration, driving home important points. I wonder what this will do to mysteries, where hiding clues is the whole point.
However, ebooks do allow searching (though that feature can be cumbersome). And you can highlight interesting lines and-- here's the wild part-- see what others have highlighted, so as you read, you can see what captured the attention of other readers. I can't say whether this makes reading more communal or just less thoughtful. ("Oh, this must be important! Everyone says so!")
Amazon actually collects the most "highlighted lines" in books that have been out a while and puts them on the book sale page. I was interested to know what lines of mine captured the reader's attention. I think they can also highlight words and get a definition.

1 comment:

Misha Gerrick said...

That's actually a point that I haven't thought of before, but one that does bear thinking about. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.