A Life Of Fiction XXX

For those of you new to this WordPress site, this site is about me and my writing – and a little about my role-playing, as well. It gives readers a chance to sample my work before purchasing it on the Kindle store; and gives me the chance to say a little about the genesis of each novel, or about the process of writing in general.

The influence of films and television: As a writer I am influenced not only by the books which I have read, but by several other media. Two of those media are films and television. By influence I do not mean plagiarism: I do not set out to copy what I have seen. I always try to be original. But it is impossible to not be influenced by what is around you, unless you hide yourself away from the world like some hermit. I understand that Enya does not listen to any music other than her own, so that she will not be influenced by other people. But such strictures are not for me.

I think that the way that television or film influences me is that I try to visualise a scene, as though I am watching it on some screen. Would that have been the case with writers before cinema was invented? I don’t know. But maybe other authors visualised seeing the scene as though they were watching some play and they were in the audience. I don’t know. But stories have to be more than a mere collection of words. I want my stories to come alive.

So I try to imagine my stories playing out, sometimes, like the old serials which you used to get in the early twentieth century, the ones which used to end on a cliff-hanger every week – Pearl White tied to the train tracks, the hero’s car plunging over the top of a cliff, and so on. Several of my books are written with the idea of a cliff-hanger in the back of my mind.

Specific things which have made a big influence on me number many. It can just be a single scene in a film or programme, such as the Doctor Who Christmas special featuring the cybermen (the one set in early Victorian times). It is the scene in the graveyard, with the cybermen advancing through the white snow, Mercy in her red dress, and the mourners in black which sticks in my mind. I think that, visually, it is one of the better scenes from the relaunched Doctor Who.

There are a few other set pieces which I have found interesting, some of them from nit very great movies. Another example is towards the end of the film Carry On Up The Khyber. The film, admittedly, is not great. But it does have one scene which makes me smile, and that is where the British are sitting down to dinner while the building they are in is being bombarded by Afghan tribesmen. Guns are going off in the background, plaster is falling from the ceiling, yet they (or most of them) carry on dining as though nothing is going on. It is both a wonderful and very silly example of British stoicism. Ah, if I could combine humour and stoicism so adroitly in my work.

There is a specific language to cinema. It is something which, as an outsider, I can only really eavesdrop on. I am not about to begin writing a film script, even though I think that the Briggs and Prenderghast novels would make excellent films (but I would say that, wouldn’t I? I am the author, after all).

Somebody, some day, should do a proper study of the influence of cinema on the written word. But not me. I have enough unfinished books to somehow bring to completion. Maybe, when everything else has been done, I will actually write something about cinema and its history, rather than just being influenced by it.

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