I’m writing a novel about the Blessed Virgin Mary and I was wandering on books where practically nothing happens. I don’t mean ones where for example, the protagonist is stuck between a rock and tries escaping while all the time thinking about his life. This is what happens in the film 127 hours (although there are a few rude parts in it). I mean those books which include page after page of unnecessary description, boring monologue and action where the story isn’t advanced in the least. Even worse are those books where the character, whether the ending be sad or not, doesn’t resolve to better his state of life and ends abruptly.
Such a book would make me want to throw it against a wall (or at teachers head!)
I’m not sure I know what you’re talking about. Could you give an example of such a book?
It seems to me that books with no plot advancement will never get accepted for publication, so how would anyone ever read them?! That’s why I would like an example.
Unnecessary description–again, how would such a book ever get accepted for publication? I can think of two authors who are famous for their books and stories in which the settings are an integral part of the stories–Ray Bradbury and Anne Rivers Siddons. I hope you are not talking about brilliant authors like these two.
Monologue in a book? I don’t get this. Are you talking about books written in the 1st person, in which case the entire book is a “monologue?”
And how can a book have action that doesn’t advance the story? That’s what action does, doesn’t it?
I think that some of the more ancient classics tend to be more stilted than some of the modern books. E.g., Charles Dickens can get a little tiresome, but I think a lot of this is just the literary style of the time which we have to study to be able to understand and appreciate his works.
Even worse are those books where the character, whether the ending be sad or not, doesn’t resolve to better his state of life and ends abruptly.
I personally think that tragedy is too much neglected in American literature. Not everybody ends up overcoming adversity. And too many of us, as a result, end up living our lives in a superstitious kind of optimism, forgetting the ultimate reward for a life well-lived.
A novel about Our Blessed Lady sounds like an intriguing one. If I undestand you correctly, you are perhaps worried about poetic licence i.e. creating detailed dramatic scenarios where we are merely familiar with the broad outline of Her life. Or, are you contemplating a novel in which the main character has recourse to Our Lady? That too sounds intriguing and worthy of admiration.
She will guide you in your endeavours.
The unabridged Les Miserables comes to mind. The novel starts not with the protaganist Jean Valjean, but with the back story of the bishop who gives him lodiging. Then there is the 20+ pages about the French sewer system.
I have to say I disagree with a lot of things said in this thread.
I actually like Charles Dickens and really enjoy getting lost in the middle of a good Russian book (The Brothers Karamazov is a fantastic exploration of sin and sinners, the role of religion and religious superstition in the lives of people of faith - and the consequences of a life without faith. I loved it!)
Many people are happy to sit through movies that are somewhat slow in their action if they include some absolutely gorgeous scenery shots and/or interesting or funny dialogue. ‘Lost in Translation’ comes to mind as one such movie. ‘Inception’ has virtually no plot at all, but I found the concept interesting. ‘Avatar’ is padded with all sorts of totally extraneous stuff that looks great but doesn’t advance the plot or the action in any sense at all. It could (and probably should) easily have been half the length.
Dickens and the Russian writers are simply the literary version of the same phenomenon.
Let’s not forget the boring bits of the Bible - how does Numbers ‘advance the plot’? How does Leviticus maintain our interest, being a boring bunch of rules and regulations? And what’s with the really downbeat ending, where the world gets destroyed?
Film is a visual medium, and so it is appropriate to see gorgeous scenery shots. I’ve done a little study about screenplay writing, and it seems that the best screenplays are the ones with very little dialogue and lots of visual appeal and action.
The Bible, especially the book of Numbers, is not a novel, so there is no"plot." Numbers is a record of the history of the Jewish people, so the point of the book is accuracy of facts, not telling a good story. Many of the other books in the Bible are not stories, either, but records of history, or books of poetry and proverbs, or teaching epistles.
As I said, the fact I found the Russian authors so boring probably says more about me at the time I read them than it does about the quality of the works. Great thing about literature is the variety, and I certainly don’t mean to fault those who do enjoy them.
As for film being a visual medium - well, good writing is often about painting pictures too y’know. Just the method is different - film uses literal images, writing can do the same thing with words.
That’s one reason why people are often so disappointed with film adaptations of books - the picture on screen doesn’t match the mental picture the reader has painted in their head of, for example, the way a character looks or speaks.