Zia Hassan

The Movie In Your Mind

There are some movies or TV shows that leave you with gruesome and vivid images. Images that leave you with nightmares for years. Shows like Breaking Bad.

Then there are movies and shows that fill you up, that leave you more together than you were before. Movies where you remember the emotion you felt so clearly when you were in the theater. Films and shows like Big Fish and Six Feet Under.

But none of these images compare to the ones created by reading a well-written piece of fiction (a book).

Books are different. They are visual in a different way. Lucy Caulkins, who writes elementary curriculum, describes the effect of a good fiction book as “a movie in your mind.”

And the thing about movies in your mind is that they are created by your mind from mere words, and minds are fantastic screen directors.

A well-written book is inherently more powerful than a well-directed show. Our brain knows us intimately, it knows what images scare us or bring us joy. A film director has to guess, and they’re often correct, but a well-written book is hardly ever wrong because our brain is the director, producer, and casting agent.

That kind of control over the visual elements of a story is unimaginable. The images created are individualized, specific to our own fears and experiences.

It’s harder work to read, of course, but for lovers of narrative… it’s worth it.