Mixed media can challenge your writing

Karalee’s Post #74

I’ve had the pleasure of going to a couple of live performances in the last month. One was a theater production called Helen Lawrence at the Stanley Theater in Vancouver. The second was Pixar in Concert by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.

Both used mixed medias.

For me, one was more successful than the other. When I considered why the reason came down to the level of concentration required to understand what was happening. I go to live performances to be entertained and expect to concentrate and pay attention, but I don’t want to have to think (or concentrate) so hard I get a headache.

8556714237 Chad Cooper Flickr


Of course this made me aware of how much information and how complex my characters and setting can be before overwhelming or confusing readers to the point of disinterest or giving up.



Helen Lawrence (screenwriter Chris Haddock) was, quote, “an intoxicating mixed media spectacle set in the Vancouver of 1948.”

This theater performance had actors on stage with a black and white “old” movie of exactly what was being performed on stage being projected through the actors onto the screen behind. For me it was very difficult to decide what to focus on. My attention kept going between the screen and the actors to the point that I lost the jist of the plot.

I became confused and frankly, not entertained. My husband tends to get seasick and next to me he was feeling nauseous.  For both of us, this experiment with mixed media didn’t work.

On the other hand, Pixar in Concert had the Vancouver Symphony playing on stage while at the same time (silent) excerpts from the animated movies lit up a huge screen behind. At first my attention was pulled between the concert players and the running movie, but because the two complimented each other I was able to take in both, or concentrate on either one or the other, and still understand what was happening.

I was entertained.

This mixed media took more concentration than just listening to a symphony performance, but not so much I became confused or had to concentrate so hard I gave up.

This is a great lesson for my writing. There is nothing wrong with pushing my writing beyond my comfort zone and trying out complicated plots and characters, or adding multiple subplots, or pushing conventional morals and attitudes. I can go ahead and challenge the conventions.

But at the end of the first draft, I know to have a good look and make sure the story hasn’t become too complicated to make sense without having to concentrate to the point of giving up.

No matter what, a story needs to be entertaining.

Happy writing!

2 thoughts on “Mixed media can challenge your writing

  1. I’ve just finished reading a chick ‘lit’ novel – not well written, but entertaining enough to keep me reading. That’s about it really. Of course it’s much better if it’s well written, and the characters have depth, and the plot is believable and moves, but in the end if it’s not entertaining I won’t continue reading.

    • I know what you mean! There seems to be less and less time in our lives to simply read, so it better be entertaining!

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