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Page & Screen: What It’s All About

If nothing else relatively new comes out of this, then this is, perhaps, the most obvious. I’ve been in two minds about this for quite some time because it would be easy enough to say: ‘well, what the hell does it have to do with literature?’ But really, the connections do exist and they’re fairly obvious, so sure, I feel as though I can justify the existence of this new … ‘project’, at least in my own mind.


Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas; 1996, Dir. Terry Gilliam
Based On the Novel By Hunter S. Thompson

From the stellar success of franchises like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games and, (as much as I hate to admit it) Twilight, to groundbreaking cult classics such as Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas (pictured above) and Fight Club , adaptations are firmly rooted in cinema history.

In the best scenarios, a successful adaptation will capture the essence of the book and highlight the themes that run through it without forgetting the importance of the visual and sensory aspects that contribute to the experience. The worst-case scenarios usually involve sacrificing the substance of the novel for the style of the film. Essentially, it’s about finding a balance that showcases the strengths of both mediums ; and when it works, the end result can be fantastic.

I have to admit, I’m more inclined to focus on the positive where I can here. Not every adaptation works, and not ever novel will be ideal to make the transition from page to screen; but I don’t feel as though bringing a book to the silver screen is really a bad thing in most cases. There’s a level of disconnection that maybe has to be exercised – it’s easier to treat the book and the film of the book as separate entities entirely because both usually have strengths of their own. There are ways we envision and interpret the things we read that don’t always add up, ways in which the film actually improves on what we imagined, and ways in which what is on the screen doesn’t quite meet our expectations.  I mean, I feel a little like I’m preaching to the choir here. I’m going over things that mostly everyone knows in a bid to try and explain this project, when maybe it doesn’t need that much explaining.

So the goal? To take a look into the transition from page to screen; what makes an adaptation successful? What makes it fall flat? Is there ever any such thing as a faithful adaptation, or will there always be the need for some kind of ellipsis? I also plan on taking a look into how the themes of the source material are represented on screen, if at all, and how, as well as the cultural impact these films tend to make. The intention is to break this little project up into sections focusing on different things, but exactly what these things are I have yet to determine. But the real challenge will be keeping it in line with everything else that goes on here, because this is not a movie blog. It is simply that the two mediums have a lot in common with each other.

That’s the plan, anyway. We’ll see how it works out sooner or later.

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Direction

Once again, this post is somewhat linked to the two prior to it, so it must be pretty clear by now that my thoughts are actually behaving somewhat coherently. That makes quite a change.

I don’t read many Young Adult novels, but for some reason, I’ve thought about it more often than once this week. Just this week. I don’t know if this is my brain’s way of telling me that I need to start toning down the things I write, or whether it is just born of the undeniable fact that I have yet to come up with a truly marketable idea. I’m nineteen. I wouldn’t say I’ve actually experienced anything remotely resembling adulthood just yet. Is it really time to start writing what I know?

I’ll bite. I avoid the risk of having hapless self-inserts in all of my stories by writing middle-aged males. It’s cheap and it doesn’t necessarily make for good reading material, not because there’s anything wrong with a middle-aged male lead, but because there’s a level of authenticity that is, quite simply, missing. It’s the Hollywood ideology of what it’s like to be turning forty, not what it’s really like … not that I’d know much about the latter, other than what I’ve observed. Not experienced.

Yet, my speed isn’t exactly writing sixteen-year-old girls filled with angst either. This is not a generalization of all YA Novels, just a generalization of myself. If I am truly to write what I know than the end result is not likely to be any more readable than if I wrote what I do not know. It would probably be more insufferable than most badly written fanfiction, and nobody wants to read that … or at least, nobody with a sound knowledge of the English language wants to read that.

So then, what about a horror story aimed at the 13 – 19-yer-old demographic? What could possibly go wrong there? Aside from the fact that if I give myself an inch of rope I’m likely to take a mile and damn, don’t I know it; the end result would probably be American Psycho: For Teens. The prospect of that alone is deeply unsettling as well as bizarre enough to make me want to contemplate it further before destroying any hope I might have had of sleeping tonight. I don’t think I’ll be taking that one any further.

Of course, my sure fire formula for success would be to write a supernatural teen romance. Aside from the fact that I can’t stand the idea of that so vehemently I might never write again, that’s a winning idea, isn’t it?

The bottom line is this: lots of drama, lots of conflict. I can’t resist the two. When omitting the fantasy violence, assassinations,  street fights, blood sports and premeditated murders, what is left is a lot of conflict between characters safely rooted in a somewhat ‘real’ environment (in some cases). Perhaps I need to strip away the veneer of depravity and start getting my message across in a different way. A constant theme is that everyone or everything has a dark side. Apparently, my writer self isn’t much about seeing the inherent good in people, and I won’t go into the reasons why this seems to manifest itself on the page, because it stands to reason that people, the people I’m writing, can show their worst side without having to use knives and guns.

Unfortunately, that teen demographic is still a long way off. We don’t want to go giving the young ones a warped world view now, do we?

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The Beginning

I’ve lost track of the amount of times I have set up a blog only to abandon it mere weeks, even days, later. This is down to a number of reasons; procrastination, forgetfulness, becoming over-encumbered with life, procrastination, lack of things to say, abandoning projects, loss of Internet access and procrastination.

In case I didn’t already make that clear, I’m a serial procrastinator.

I wait and wait on things until I’m so far past the deadline it ceases to become clear as to whether there was a deadline to begin with. Or whether I actually knew that I was involved in a certain project.

Have I made a silent pact with myself not to let this attempt go to waste? No. I’ve found that, far too often, I start writing blogs for the sake of other people, rather than using them to channel my own thoughts and opinions. However, as with most projects, this has come about at a time where I’ve found my mind brimming with thoughts and ideas, and these will no doubt dissipate as time goes on. I lose sight of most of these thoughts and ideas, and I become afraid to share my opinions in case they offend anybody.

Therefore, let it be known that relatively little of what I say is said through malice of any kind. It’s usually more ‘you caught me in a bad mood during which time I happened to open up my browser and post on my blog’ or ‘this riles me up so much I just had to post about it’.

Either way, this is, first and foremost, a blog about writing; a concept that is overdone, yes, but a subject matter that I’m passionate about and feel the need to share in some way, shape or form.

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