Wisdom has it that new wine cannot be stored in old bottles but this saw has now to be revised. Electronic readers and data bases store the wisdom of ages in entirely new paperless vehicles. The Bible, the Koran and Victorian texts are read on computer screens and smart phones. The best thriller novels do not necessarily have paper backgrounds.
Animals and birds are great readers. In response to environmental signs they may decide to migrate. Dogs observe human actions and bounce about read for a walk when a human companion gives some unconscious sign. In much the same way textual signs arouse emotions in people.
Authors make it their business to construct texts that interest and entertain. If they do it well and are good at selling their products they can become wealthy and influential. The trick is to construct products that enable readers to ‘suspend disbelief’ and enter an imaginary world that could be true though it is not. This harmless deception can be great entertainment that informs and reduces stress.
In the era of Jane Austen most people were illiterate but those who could read had many servants who could sweep and dust, leaving much time for upper class ladies to read Gothic novels. Now their descendants have to work and have less time for leisure reading. However the formerly illiterate are now readers. Moreover they have access to a vast array of films, smart phones computer screens and paper texts. There are many more readers and many more texts to inform and intrigue. Authors have to contend with working in a reading revolution.
The positive side of the situation is that there are many more readers than ever before in the history of humanity. There are billions of people who are constantly readings screens. Images flash in films, on computer screens and on smart phones. Search engines and electronic readers allow access to whole libraries from hand held devices carried in pockets
The reading habit is alive and vital, perhaps more so than ever before, but it exists in a new milieu. E books, paperless texts and electronic reading devices have changed the reading environment to such an extent that the paper book finds itself in a situation that is not entirely dissimilar to the eighteenth century dodo. To survive it must learn to fly.
The social and intellectual environment in which contemporary authors work has undergone radical change. However, as is the case in most revolutions many fundamental things remain constant. A stranger approaching the mouth of a cave would have attracted attention of everyone thousands of years ago. If she happened to be a beautiful young girl the women would have gone back to work and the men would have craned forward eagerly, just as they would in 2012.
The best thriller novels in contemporary times probably follow variations of the rules identified by Aristotle. There will be conflicting impulses of pity and fear. Fast dramatic action will draw attention and the voyeur may be satisfied by feeling that he is watching without being watched. Because human beings are social creatures they will be fascinated by instances of psychological pressures and by steadily increasing pressure until a climax is reached.
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Author: Concepcion McConnellThis author has published 2 articles so far.