I want to thank Martha for letting me guest blog today, it's an honor. Let me begin by introducing myself and then getting in the obligatory plug. I'm Rob Tobin, Canadian screenwriter, novelist and non-fiction book author living and writing full-time in southern California -- specifically Huntington Beach, about 50 miles south of L.A. Now the plug -- this guest blog is part of a blog tour I'm doing to promote my latest book, an urban fantasy e-novel called God Wars: Living with Angels from Echelon Press, available the first week of March on Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and Omnilit.com for $2.99. God Wars is about a young witch using her powers to battle evil but in the process accidentally opening the gates of Hell and then having to battle a demon she can't defeat, an angel she can't trust and three-foot tall aliens with really bad attitudes to save the world and her own soul. It's a rollicking, action-packed, sexy, funny look at good and evil and the dangers of vengeance, and I hope that when you download the book you'll enjoy the read.
Now, with that out of the way, let me get back to my real purpose here, which is to discuss something of interest to you, the readers. As a writer it's been a fascinating past twenty years or so (which happen to coincide with my coming to Los Angeles from my native Canada), especially from the technological point of view. The changes I've seen over the past twenty years were recently brought home to me when I appeared on a panel at the New Media Film Festival in San Francisco and the topics ranged from gaming (a completely new genre of storytelling that may well be the future of story) to streaming, codecs (compressors/decompresses), mobile filmmaking (shooting and displaying films on cellphones), digital filmmaking of course, Hulu, YouTube and other technological topics.
I remember sitting 20years ago with my then girlfriend (now my wife) Leslie in her Malibu home, explaining the latest cutting edge computer to her (the Mac Classic, a little box, self-contained except for the keyboard) and telling her that that cutting-edge computer's 80 megabyte hard drive (yes, I said Megabyte, not GIGAbyte or TERRAbyte) would be more than she'd ever need in her entire lifetime. I had a dial-up modem (well before DSL) and was using a service provider called Prodigy (oldsters will remember that one). In essence, then, no internet, no downloading, heck even television cable was in its infancy and the three networks still ruled the television world. In terms of publishing, you had hard copies and then you had… hard copies. No eBooks. No eBook readers. No book downloading, no kindles, no nooks, just… paper(!!!).
We all know where we're at now -- Kindles, Nooks, eBooks, Amazon.com now selling more eBooks than "real" hard copy books, major traditional book retailers like Borders teetering on the verge of survival. Carry an entire library of books around with you on your iPad. Download a book for a buck and a few seconds of your time. Even more exciting (and frightening, to some) write your own book and publish it direct to Kindle! That's right, bypass traditional publishers altogether. The desktop revolution that began with the Mac so many years ago has finally been realized.
The good news is that it's made it so much easier for you, the reader. The maybe-good-maybe-bad news is that it's made it harder for writers to make an actual living from their writing. Ten percent of a $25.00 hardcover book allowed writers to put food on the table. 40% of a 99-cent e-book… not so much.
But, everything changes and we either adapt or go the way of the dinosaur. And there is always the old French saying: plus ca change, plus c'est pareil -- the more things change, the more they stay the same. Television was supposed to be the death knell of the studios. Nope. The studios bought the networks and/or used them to provide one more distribution channel for their product so that everyone flourished. Now the internet is supposed to be the death of television. I don't think so. I think the studios and networks will find a way to incorporate the internet into their creative and business strategies and we, as writers and readers will have to do the same.
But there are changes, not just to the distribution methods for writing, but in writing styles themselves. I remember one day watching an old Robert Matchup/Deborah Kerr movie ("Heaven Knows mr. Alison") in which Mitchum plays a World War II soldier stranded on a small island in the pacific. In one scene he is standing at the bottom of a hill and Kerr, dressed as a nun, is standing at the top of it. We watch as he climbs the hill. He climbs… he climbs… he climbs… and we watch the whole lengthy, painstaking climb. It was the slowest thing I'd seen since my last trip down the 405 freeway in Los Angeles -- or the last time I tried to get online with AOL. Couldn't get away with that today, everything is cut/cut/cut, flash from this scene to that scene, shorter scenes, faster action, more implied than shown. And of course the change in public morality has made a huge change in what we write about and how we write about it. Changes in politics, economics, fashion, music -- they all make it necessary for writers to adapt, so why should technology be any different? In a way technological change is just another in a long line of changes that we writers either adapt to or die trying to resist. There is no going backward, "Back to the Future" notwithstanding.
So, let's forge ahead with new technologies, new writing styles, new topics, new story structures, but let's also keep in mind -- the writer's "prime directive" remains the same, always: entertain the reader. I hope I've been able to do a bit of that today while musing about the world we live in and the world we used to live in. Thanks for letting me have the soap box for a few minutes, and I hope to visit you again sometime -- maybe during my next blog tour. Ciao.
Biography: Rob Tobin
Screenwriter and Novelist
Rob is a husband, father, screenwriter, novelist, non-fiction book author, frequent guest speaker at film festivals and writing conferences, and a graduate of USC’s Master of Professional Writing program and of the University of Victoria’s Creative Writing program. He has a $15 million feature film (“Dam 999”) in post production, a $40 million feature (“Camel Wars”) in development with legendary filmmaker John McTiernan (“Die Hard,” “Predator,” “Hunt for Red October”) attached to direct, a novel (“God Wars”) scheduled to be published in early 2011, and two published non-fiction books. Creative Screenwriting Magazine recently produced two of Rob’s instructional screenwriting DVDs.
Rob is a former VP of Writers Boot Camp, the country’s largest private screenwriting school. As a story analyst, he read 5,000+ screenplays for Goldwyn, Spelling, Interscope, TriStar, TriMark, HBO, et al. He also helped establish a feature film department for Stephen J. Cannell (“The A-Team,” “Hunter,” “The Commish”).Please see my review and giveaway post for a chance to win a copy of the eBook offered by the author.