Friday, September 22, 2006

Quicker and Quicker

Like most people, I record a lot of shows on the DVR and when I watch them, I fast forward through the commercials.

To counteract this, one network has announced they are going to start using a static 30 second commercial. Just 30 seconds of a single picture, with a new show's date and time.

Interesting. Innovative, even. But for the people who don't have a DVR or TIVO, it's going to be flip-city. Who's going to sit through 30 seconds of nothingness? We're a constant input generation, we want action, sound, movement, something to titillate our senses.

30 seconds of stillness doesn't seem like such a great idea when you think about the fact that some satellite radio stations have begun doing 2 second commercials. 2 second commercials.

What does this mean to those of us who write? What's happening to the attention span of our readers?

Personally, I like moments of "downtime" in the books I read. Moments when there's no real action, just some introspection. I like action, don't get me wrong, but too much of that and I feel like I'm not getting to know the characters. I want to know what they're thinking and feeling, how the situations are affecting them.

Maybe I'm alone in feeling that way. Maybe the divide between readers and watchers is expanding. (Not that you can't be both, I definitely am, but there is unquestionably a group of non-readers in this world and I dare say you could easily find most of them in front of a certain glowing box...)

What kind of pace do you like in the books you read?


  1. I'm a gnat with adhd. When I read, I want to be moving forward, constantly. Too much introspection and I start to yawn and skim. Seriously.

    But I don't have a DVR yet so, the 30 second still commercial will suck the life force right out of me.

    Not that I watch commercials very often. Usually, I'm flipping channels to see what else is on.

    Now, in real life, I'm totally opposite. I can sit in one place and stare into space for hours. I just don't wanna read about that happening and I def. don't want to watch that on tv. LOL

  2. Anonymous8:26 AM

    I completely agree with you. I want periods of introspection that both lull me into a sense of calmness and allow me into the head of the character. It makes those moments when the action grabs hold of you and takes you for a while ride SO Much more exciting. Rhythm and timing are everything, imho.

  3. I like introspection, if it's done well. I love action, but too much of it seems, well, bland. I end up putting the book down. I agree, I have to know the character and, though you can tell a lot by a character through action, I need a "rest" period to be drawn in. Glad to see I'm not the only one these days. :)

  4. No introspection for me, thank you very much. I want action and dialogue and lots of it!

    And not just in books, LOL!

  5. It's all in the balance. Sometimes introspection is needed, sometimes it's overkill. But then, that's what makes a great book, right? Knowing how to tell a story correctly.

    Personally, I love my DVR. I couldn't live without it! I think eventually commercials are going to be fazed out by product placement, ala The Truman Show. It's already happening. Last season, the show "Medium" hyped up the film "Memoirs of a Geisha" by having the lead characters go to the movie, then run into 2 other characters in the show and hyped the film up to them. I was like, huh? Then I realized that the movie had bought major air time on the show. It was kind of funny.

  6. I like to know my characters. If it's all go go go I yawn. Who cares? If I don't know them, what they think or feel or dream about, why should I get invested? I am involved in too many real life dramas to be worried about cardboard figures going through hypotheticals. But if they let me into their head, if I can feel my own heart beating faster by the tale they spin around me, then the action is more thrilling, the movement more intense, the whole book more absorbing IMO
    I usually get bored by TV. If a show still has me on the couch after 5min they are doing well, unless of course I've fallen asleep.