It hit me tonight like a pie in the face--something I couldn't ignore, while I was watching White Christmas. The difference between books or old movies, and the current crop of movie offerings.
White Christmas, like so many old movies, tells a story that brings characters to life, reveals their flaws, and entertains without relying on special effects.
Books--so very much like old movies, rely on character building, and the reader's mind. And there has to be a story--because there is no huge budget for Hollywood style special effects compensating for a lack of a good, solid, story.
Not that I don't love a good scifi movie now and again, full of things that are food for the imagination. But such, accompanied by a story that makes me laugh, cry, and wish for more...are just so few and far-between.
As a writer, I think it is my job to feed the reader enough to ignite their imaginations so they can set about creating their own special effects. I want them to put a face to the protagonist, and I want them to see the world in which my characters live, but I can't give them so many details that it is all laid out for them. I want them to see things relative to the world in which they live. If I overwrite details, then I have stolen that intricate part out of the relationship between the reader and the book--the intimacy of living in a fictional world that is customized by their imaginations. Those are real special effects.