Just wonderin’….

Yesterday, while eating chocolate doughnut (notice I spelled it correctly?) holes while finishing up a book by one of my favorite authors, Georgette Heyer.  One thing I noticed is that, based on today’s standards, her pacing was a little slow.  You must understand, I hadn’t re-read a Heyer book since I started my professional career as an author.  And I’m guessing, if I wasn’t writing professionally now, I still might not notice her pacing except for one thing.  I’m used to a faster life now.  And that’s what set me wondering…is it possible that one reason some of the authors of yesteryear sold those long epics because life wasn’t as fast as today?

In the ’60s, I read the Lord of the Rings trilogy and thought it was the bomb!  When Peter Jackson released the first of his movies, I rushed out and bought the re-releases.  I sat down to read and went to sleep around page seven.  Oh my God, how could I have I thought it was so great?  Peter should have been Tolkein’s editor.  Then I thought of my life back then as compared to now.  Mail took 3-4 days to arrive.  Flying by jet was only for the rich and very few people flew at all.  Most long-distance travelling was done by car, bus, or train.

Now we have computers and cell phones so communications are lightening fast.  You don’t even have to wait until after 7:00PM for the cheaper rates.  Eating out meant ordering, waiting for food, and eating.  Now, you drive through, pick up your food, and sometimes even eat it while driving from soccer game to swim meet.  Most of us don’t even get eight hours sleep anymore!  So is that why book pacing is so much faster today?  Are we so used to the faster life style, we no longer are willing to take the time to read massive descriptive scenes like James Michner wrote?  Because we can Google any culture, do we HATE reading all that research the author offers us to increase our knowledge of other peoples?

What do you think?


6 thoughts on “Just wonderin’….

  1. I think you are absolutely right. As much as I like my PC and being online, I miss sitting at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee leisurely read a letter sent by the postman.

  2. I know that’s why. Back when I started reading romance, I love the long epic details they used to write. I still do. But no way would it sell in this day and time. Life is fast. We want it now.

    It’s a good thing I still have a few of those epics. Every once in a while I want to take it slow and easy.

    Fast doesn’t always mean better…unless you’re talking to my Hubster. lol

  3. Jackie,

    After reading this, I was tempted to just post “yes”. I think we have a whole generation with shorter attention spans. Think about the microwave oven and how it sped up cooking… the same is true for reading. We want it NOW. Instant gratification. I’m as guilty as the next guy. spw

  4. Someone once described popular fiction as a journey about events in people’s lives, while literary fiction was about the words used to describe that journey. In the literary fiction I’ve read, pacing is pretty much an afterthought. Unfortunately, for me, so is the appeal.

    Like Ashley, I do long for some of the bigger, lusher books. Pacing has cost us a lot in quality of books today. If authors had more words to tell their stories, they could deepen characterization, layer in emotion, use complex plots.

    I think there’s often a frantic sense of rushrushrush in books today. Reading them isn’t always the relaxing experience it used to be.

  5. You’re right, Mom. Life has changed how we read. I have moved away from the “more involved” books because it’s so hard to make time to read and distractions abound everywhere. The faster paced stories are actually easier for me to read in short bursts. Or else, I stick with anthologies and comic books.

    The more involved books I end up leaving until I take vacation. That way, I control both my time more and the distractions. Unfortunately, that also means that I have serveral books set aside for that quiter time that have been waiting for years.

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