What is the Best Way to Tell a Story?

I’ve been traveling recently, and when I travel I catch up on reading.  This has included some fiction, both classic and contemporary.  It’s gotten me to thinking — when books, whether they be classic like The Hunchback of Notre Dame or contemporary like the Harry Potter series, are adapted for movies (or I suppose when movies are published in written form), which medium makes for a better story?

I became interested in Harry Potter by viewing the movies, then becoming curious enough to read the books.  And I enjoyed both immensely, but it was interesting to compare and contrast, and the differences were pretty clear.  The cinema scenes were more intense, with great backgrounds and eye-catching special effects.  But the books were more introspective.  I felt like I was better able to identify with the characters and understand their emotions.  Through the printed word, the characters were more complete.

My latest reading of contemporary fiction is The Hunger Games Trilogy.  I have only seen half of one movie (due to the subject matter, I’m not sure I want to watch any more), but I’m on my second reading of the books.  I’ve become most impressed with the protagonist’s character development.  The printed page is so effective at building the character and providing insight into her personality that I find myself thinking “Some day I would really like to meet her”, then having to remind myself this is completely fictional.

I can think of another advantage books have — they’re better at engaging the readers’ imaginations.  With no (or at least fewer) visual cues, the imagination can play a role in the storytelling instead of having everything unfold on a screen.  This means no two readers may have the same interpretation or experience.  I guess that’s why we have so many book clubs.

So all media have strengths and weaknesses, but I think I like books best.


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