o’reilly? y’reilly!

Nokia Care came through at 3:45 yesterday presenting me with my repaired phone. So Win! I have my brain back for today’s lecture with Matthew Reilly. But Fail! as they also took the opportunity to upgrade my software, formatting what I had there in the first place. So today has seen me slowly rebuilding and recopying a lot of things but fortunately I synched before I surrendered the phone and even more fortunate is that it means I won’t run out of space for recording the lecture!

Matthew Reilly at Indooroopilly Library. First of all, big kudos to the library staff who not only handled the long line of fans with grace and patience, but they also had the lecture catered for. The small coffee shop next to Angus and Robertson could have made stupid amounts of money by having someone take orders while the line stretched around the block. In this case it was sandwiches and, OJ and coffee that was left at the back of the line while librarians carried trays for fans not willing to jeapordize their place in line.

The lecture itself was broken into two parts: One was pretty much Matthew Reilly on Matthew Reilly and it provided an incredible amount of insight into his methods of writing, what projects he had in mind next and what he started with. Definitely funny stuff but also so informative that it answered my question on pacing and timing before it even started.

The rest of the hour was question and answer time and each question was expounded upon to deliver even more information and tidbits, especially about his latest upcoming novel Five Greatest Warriors, the conclusion to the Jack West Junior Trilogy.

Likely I’ll post into some detail about that once I check the recording and refresh my memory on a few things. But two things stuck in my head, answering one question and affirming something else:

The novelist is the ultimate director, not just writing the story, but setting the scene, the characters, the budget, the locations and everything else doen with a freedom that a movie director couldn’t hope to achieve. Or “The limits of my imagination are the limits of my budget”.

The part that had me curious – the way he achieves his furious pace – comes down to a pretty simple technique: The combination of action and exposition; or rather, the elimination of the pause/rest between action scenes. Neil will appreciate this more so than anyone that Matthew Reilly took a leaf out of Barney’s book when he said that he sets the awesome this high, and just keeps building it from there.

Shot to the heart! And you’re to blame…

The break, or pause or rest is utterly essential in visual storytelling. In movies it is that moment of quiet – seylar – that allow the audience to pause, reflect and process the amazing amount of action that’s taken place. An example is the mile-a-minute freeway chase of Matrix Reloaded where Trinity, Morpheus and the Keymaker are dodging the Merovingian’s twins, Agents and civilian traffic until the final explosive conclusion. You’ll notice that things sharply decrease to a quiet and measured plot as Lawrence Fishburn guides the audience, zen-like in his narration, up to the next action scene.

Now imagine if you’d just seen Neo, after 10 minutes of car crashing acrobatics, Morpheus and the Keymaker continue this exposition still flying at breakneck speed to the next action scene at the skyscraper…

Reilly proposes just that. His characters exposit and make connections, deductions and assumptions on the fly, on their feet, no pause to reflect on what just happened but moving ahead to the next action scene.

As daunting as the prospect is in movies and, in some regard, comics; the novel’s pace and speed is set by the reader. He or she can put the book down as there’s nothing keeping them there. No overpriced movie ticket, or set amount of time to watch a DVD. They can decide to close the book and reflect, or in Reilly’s case, remember to breathe.

Which may explain why Reilly’s books aren’t heavy on the dialogue but big on the narration.

Also, Reilly like onamatopea.

More to follow.

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