Thursday, October 21, 2010

Kari's Queries, part 6

And here is the next installment of questions from my high school friends! They're really starting to get some insightful stuff going on here!

What is your favorite novel made into a movie?

Ooh, my favorite? Hmm…

Well (and this probably marks me as old) I’ve always been a fan of The Crow, which was based on a graphic novel rather than a book… I think as far as adapting the imagery faithfully, and the overall atmosphere of the world, the movie did a wonderful job.

The Lord of the Rings movies were also amazing adaptations. At the risk of being lynched by a mob of angry Tolkienites, I would say that those movies kept the epic essence of the books, and eliminated some of the more…meandering sub-plots. Normally, when they start hacking things out of books to make them into movies, I get a little wary, but in this case I think it worked to the good.

I will also cite The Dresden Files. It was a TV series, rather than a movie, and while it altered a lot of Jim Butcher’s details, I think it kept the heart and soul of the books. I was sad it only lasted one season.

The first few Harry Potter movies did well, I think, but they eventually started leaving so much out that I think it was a detriment to the later movies. It’ll be interesting to see how the final two play out, with some of the pertinent details never established.

It would honestly be easier for me to list the book-to-movie progressions that have disappointed, mostly because you remember the bad stuff easier than the stuff that went well. Especially with books that people dearly love. They hate to see their beloved characters tampered with. For a really good movie, they’ll be a bit more lenient, but if the screenplay/direction/acting just isn’t there…nope.

Do you ever find yourself struggling with making your plot lines original sounding? If so, what kinds of things do you do to make it more interesting?

I see what you did there, sneaking two questions into one. Ya’ll are just trying to see if I’m paying attention.

Well, first I need to respond to this question like this: There are no original plots left. True story. If you break down every book/TV show/movie into its base components, every story has been told.

I mean, just off the top of your head, how many different Romeo & Juliet movies can you think of? Y’know, the ones where the boy and girl come from different places in life, but try to find love despite their warring families?

Or how about the “stranger makes war on an unfamiliar people, then learns to love them and adapt to their ways”? Just thinking about it now, I can come up with four and that’s not even trying.

So yes, I struggle to make my plot lines original. But really, I just have to remind myself that, while the storyline may have been done already, it’s still a storyline that people enjoy. I mean, the Romeo & Juliet dynamic has proven popular for centuries now. Why mess with a good thing?

The thing I can control is my execution of the plotline. The easiest (though also often done) method is to take the standard trope (stop: Look the word up. Miss Chie will be happy if you do) and turn it inside out. Take one of the basic elements and make the opposite happen.

Maybe your Cinderella is the boy in the story. Maybe the dark and sinister man is actually the good guy. Maybe the zombie plague is really the cure for cancer. Who knows?

Whatever you decide to do, it’s HOW you do it that makes it uniquely your own. While Jesse’s core story, that of one underdog against the world, isn’t unique, Jesse himself is. I’ve never seen another protagonist done quite the same way, and that’s why he catches people’s attention.

If you sit around and try to think up a plot that’s never been done before, you’ll never put a single word on the paper. Don’t try.


I had a lot of fun with these this week! Thanks so much!

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