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When Ka Decides Book to Movie Adaptations

The last time I addressed this topic I had been jaded and disappointed in Hollywood and most screenwriters for “screwing up” or “mis-interpreting” a beloved book/series. If you wish you can read it HERE. Warning, it is nit-picky and kind of pretentious.  My younger self (even just a few years ago) would throw out an entire movie just on some little details or expectations that far exceeding the truth of what book to movie versions represent.

This hard truth, a pill some fans are resistant to swallow (including my slightly younger self), is that each work of art (story, film, song) is interpreted by each reader/fan. They bring to that interpretation their own past, their hardships, their memories, which change the experience and perception of the art. And those interpretations that make it through the vetting process of a studio and a screen writer, the ones that make it onto the big screen might not match our own.images (1)

And it’s OKAY that the interpretations don’t match the source material. (Yes, even the most widely agreed upon as the worst of interpretations. Cough The Scarlet Letter with Demi Moore cough cough). Because the interpretation isn’t a reproduction. It is the viewing of the source material, quite literally, through the lens of someone else’s mind.

thought-policeThis may be an obvious reminder, but if we interpreted works of art the same then our lives would be worse than those in 1984 where they were spoon-fed their opinions by the government. If we are imposing on ourselves such an exclusive thinking, that our interpretations are better than other, then we are the ones to blame for hampering creativity. That’s the last thing the artists, writers, musicians, and filmmakers of the world want. That’s the last thing the readers and fans want (even if they don’t know it). Because without the independent, unique thoughts of the individual, we would deprive ourselves of some of the most beautiful creations known to man.

I’ve had a few of my favorite books turned into movies (most recently the sci-fi favorite Ender’s Game) and out of every possibility that could go wrong (inconsistencies, plot changes, terrible casting choice) I always left the theater with a huge grin, squealing my fangirl squeals all the way back to the car.
Undoubtedly, the phenomenon of having a non-pictorial story come alive in a very graphic and visually-appealing format….is a satisfaction that goes beyond anything I’ve ever experienced. To have story, its characters, its setting brought to life in front of my eyes—how can I NOT watch in awe? Some books are so vivid and so rich that they can play like a movie in your head. The scenes and character descriptions built in your mind are now standing in front of you on the screen. Voices are given timber and accents, bodies are given shape and clothes, and gestures and mannerisms are played out on the screen.

Even if every scene has one flaw, there is something magical that happens when someone takes the colors of prose and paints the filmstrip with them.

Speaking of Ender’s Game. Yes, I’m a fan. No, I will not be discussing the author’s private views in this blog. Yes, I have read every book in the main series and still don’t care about the author’s private views.

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The movie…blew my mind. Not in its accuracy (since the ending did not match the book it was titled from), but in the simple fact that a book I had come to love and revere for its intricate analysis of human emotion and psychology and sociology, was alive before me.

Were the actors everything I imagined? I will admit my poor visual imagination (thanks to aphantasia-it’s a real thing, I swear) pales in comparison to what the writers and producers put together. I recognized Ender when he came on screen not just physically, but for how the actor portrayed him. I felt the admiration Graff showed him in the final moments of the battle and the horror his team felt when he found out the truth of his victory. THAT is why I learned to enjoy book to movie interpretations. Because it gives new life to something I already love. It brings characters new dimension by adding this visual facet that wasn’t there before.

Maybe it’s because I found myself overly criticizing other’s works and I needed to reign in my own elitist thoughts. Or because I’ve actually written a piece I can imagine becoming a movie, but I’ve slowly learned to appreciate the amount of work it takes to translate something that is so complex and detailed on the page into a new format successfully.

Let’s turn now to an upcoming adaptation that has already experienced the sting of elitism even before the entire cast list is set.

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Yes, my lovelies I am talking about the long-awaited adaptation of Stephen King’s The Gunslinger. To most, you know that I am a constant reader and dedicated fan to the writer who has astounded us for decades with his ability to merge genres and themes into beautiful, sometimes horrific portraits of humanity. He is not only a constantly evolving author, but an intense inspiration for any writer who simply loves the craft regardless of the paycheck.

His alternate worlds, science fiction, fantasy western is finally coming to the silver screen. And his fans are pissed. Let me preface this conversation with the fact that although The Gunslinger is one of 8 novels in the Dark Tower series, there is no plan to make the rest of them into movies. This will be important later.

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The crux of fan issues is in the casting choice and their displeasure lies in the elitism of what we as the reader view for the character in our minds as well as what we know to be true from the content. The casting the Man in Black as Matthew McConaughey was taken fairly well as he has played enough bad guy roles that he can characterize the elusive chaotic Man in Black with ease.

Yet when we come to the namesake of the movie, the gunslinger Roland Deschain of Gilead who would be played by Idris Elba. Although at first I agreed with some of the confused and annoyed fans that the choice was poorly made in reference to everything we knew about Roland: his description within the books (i.e. he was lighter in skin color-although still tan I imagine, blue eyes and silvering black hair) and the huge racial issues that occurred in the Drawing of the Three when Odetta (eventually Susannah), one of his ka-tet (destined companions), was battling a deeply wrathful and racist other personality Detta who hated Roland for his whiteness.

idrisHOWEVER, and this is a big HOWEVER. Most of the issues that would affect the story telling and character development (the racial and personality conflict in Drawing of the Three) will never reach the big screen. Therefore, the only real attachment to content here is based on physical description, which in almost every single movie adaption has changed based on what the interpretation needs. In this case, The Gunslinger as a standalone doesn’t require Roland to be fair-skinned. It requires a rough, sometimes cold personality of a man who has lost his love, his home, and his mind a few times in his unending quest to save his world from utter destruction. Idris Elba is capable of that character. Idris Elba will succeed well at bringing a new version of Roland to the fans of the Dark Tower series, if we have faith in the screen writers and the producers and the actors to be good to a story we hold dear.

Because, constant readers and new readers and never readers, how do we expect others to excel if we continue to doubt what they’re capable of?

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Again, the key here is…the movie will be someone else’s INTERPRETATION of King’s work. I began reading about the topic of The Gunslinger movie upset at why they would change the content. Until King reminded me (and the whole world) that someone else is telling the story now, and we should sit down, shut up, and enjoy the freakin’ ride, man! Just as many fans interpreted Roland as Clint Eastwood, there are others who would see Idris Elba as their calloused yet talented Gunslinger. The man whose obsession with Tower made him ignorant to the death of his friend until it was too late. This character, this man, this….Gunslinger is not what one person expects him to be. He remembers the face of his father. He follows the path of the Beam. He respects Ka above all other forces in the universe.

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I, for one, reigned in my inner critic really quick. Since I am currently reading Wolves of the Calla (Book 5), I tried imagining (poorly due to my aphantasia) Idris as Roland. And I pasted him in like a paper doll in a book. He fit right in. I find him just as easily subduing the Calla with the Commala Rice song and his quick footwork on the stage. I imagine him carefully following Susannah out into the swamp/woods to find out what’s going on. He is just as much Roland as I would have imaged the men who are drawn on the covers of the books. It’s just a new interpretation, a new version of the Roland I admire.

Book to movie adaptations are a hard subject among readers. We view the book as the superior source because it was there first and because it has more to the story that the movie ever will. I implore you friends and fellow constant readers. Set aside your personal images of the characters. Open your mind to a new interpretation of a story you’ve come to love. You never know what might surprise you about this interpretation. It may show you more to love about the story and characters than before.

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Happy reading and writing and watching my minions!

Don’t worry I didn’t forget the bengal cat picture for your viewing pleasure. Nyla says hello!

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Day 8: 12 Days of Blogmas

Merry Blogmas! First, check out this glorious Christmas photo. Isn’t it amazing?

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Third Rule of Prompts:

Don’t always go stag. Trying taking a friend date to prompt.

This is a good rule for school dances, family events, and when writing a prompt. One of the first goals I had in this 12 Days of Blogmas series was to share the appeal and the justification for my love of prompts and hopefully inspire others to start using them as a tool to improve their writing.

It was once again with Janice that the aha moment reached me about the secret treasures of prompts. It was, I believe, the first or second workshop when we began the prompts. We were given 20 minutes to write as much as possible and then we would volunteer to share with the class.

For me, writing sprints are enjoyable and difficult. I enjoy the pressure and the force of being under the clock, but my brain doesn’t always catch up and I end up getting hung up on a word or phrase, or just completely blank out. However, the prompts help me to get past that. In several of the workshop prompts I managed to get whole pages written and while this was exciting enough for me, I was also thrilled at the idea of seeing the quality and personality of my new peers in the group.

And when it came time to share our newly minted pieces, I was struck by how diverse the ideas were. This is one of the biggest reasons to do prompts with others. You can see and enjoy the magic of the human brain and how each person brings something new and wonderful to the table.

Rion, who I have mentioned in many previous posts, easily brought me the most joy and surprise when doing the prompt sprints. They are so well-read and filled to the brim with creativity that it seems otherworldly to know they can develop 5 to 10 PAGES in that short 20 minute period.

Now this is drastically different, by comparison to my one to two paragraphs (maximum 1 PAGE) that I averaged per sprint. And while I may put a little too much time into each word, Rion’s brain is lightening fast and they are able to deliver magnificent quality work for a first draft. I mean, I couldn’t find anything even remotely bad about it.

But back to the point, it was even more thrilling to see how differently our stories had developed from a similar beginning. By the end of the semester I was convinced that I needed to start a group where my friends/writers could join we’d do a prompt a month and share it with one another. For privacy’s sake we made the group on Goodreads where we could post as much as we wanted and our unedited work wouldn’t be consumed by readers other than ourselves. It was somewhat necessary at the time because we were just getting started.

It ended up being one of the best decisions I ever made social media-wise. I loved the interaction, the togetherness built from the exercises, even though it lasted only three short months.

I challenge you minions to take a prompt from the interwebs (or my last post) and ask a friend to do one together (cowriting a story can be an interesting experiment) or do a small competition with one another to see who can get to a certain word count by a certain time using a prompt.

In other words, prompt together. Write together. Enjoy this festive time to write something new.

Happy Reading and writing!

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12 Days of Blogmas Writing Contest

Now that I have finished my Master’s degree (yes you may call me Mistress), I am ready to get back into the groove of blogging with this new series.

Writing prompts have become profoundly important to my education as a writer and the development of my stories. And then…

unnamed                                                           I had an idea!

What if I took my favorite writing exercise—choosing prompts and writing scenes or stories from them—and made it into a quick writing contest?Everything about the contest (the prompts, rules, prizes) is listed below for you to review and decide if you might try your hand at this casual, fun writing contest.

The Prompts:

Any of these three “winter” themed prompts can be used to create a stunning story. I will request that submissions for the contest be in prose format simply due to my lack of knowledge in the realm of poetry (and no one wants a noob reviewing contest submissions), and ALL genres will be welcome. I will also be joining you in writing one of these (outside of the contest, of course), and will share mine at the very end of Blogmas!

 

  1. Silvery flakes drifted down, glittering in the bright light of the harvest moon. The blackbird swooped down…
  2. While shopping in a department store during the holidays, a child is separated from his or her parents and discovers a portal to a winter wonderland.
  3. Use the below photo as inspiration for a story.1ac6755cebce4562c48969d6bb80bbb9

 

The Rules:

1.Only one submission per person because…well, fairness.

2.Try to keep submission under 1200 words, they can be a scene/chapter, a piece of flash fiction, or an excerpt. The reason behind this is that I want each submission to be eligible for potential publication elsewhere (yes, I believe in you), so keeping the word count limited will allow that (since some publishers are picking about online copies of excerpts).

3.The first round of the contest will be conducted by me in that I will choose from all of the submissions and elect 12 to be featured (one per day) in its own individual blog post. After each submission is published, each finalist will be entered to win the prizes which will be chose

4.All submissions must be sent via email to Amyoung0606@gmail.com by 12/14/2015 at 11:59pm. The first blogmas submission will be published on 12/13/15 and run until 12/24/15. Submissions should be sent in word document format with no name in the document, your name (pen name if applicable), and a short paragraph about you or what you like to read write should be in the body of the email. If you wish to describe the inspiration of your submission please feel free to add anything you would want included in published blog post.

There will be three winners chosen from the 12 finalists at random to win the prizes. Winners will be chosen and announced by Monday 11/28/2015 due to the holiday, and photographs of the prizes will also be posted before they are shipped out.

THE PRIZES:

The first winner will receive a copy of On Writing by the King. It is one of my personal favorites and a great anecdotal account of learning the craft.

The second winner will receive a “Mystery Geek Package” filled with all things geeky, nerdy, fantasy, sci-fi to inspire the writer caught in a winter block.

The third winner will receive a “Curl Up By the Fire Package” for those nights when a writer needs a break and sits back to read a good book. Contents may include homemade cookies, delectable hot beverages, and warm words of encouragement.

So my faithful minions, I dare you to put on your writer’s cap, plug in your computer/ get out your pad and paper, and join me for the 12 Days of Blogmas where you may find your work published on here for the world to see and a well-earned prize in your mail after Christmas.

As always, I wish you Happy reading and writing!

And let’s not forget the obligatory cat selfies/human selfies from Mistress Spotted Writer and her muse, Nyla Troublemaker!

 

 

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Banning Books: Guest Author Denise Drespling Answers

I use Grammarly to detect plagiarism because Shia LaBeouf’s twitter apology makes a more exciting buzzfeed post than a copycat blog.

Courtesy of Google Images and Arielle Selzer-Graphic Design

Some of the most  admirable works have made it to the banned books list for a multitude of extreme reasons. While banned books impart terror into book lovers, it’s also a milestone for writers who have broken the mold of “acceptable literature.” Each year, new books are added to the collection of stories that should not be read according to a straight-laced minority.

With the help of my guest blogger, Denise Drespling, we tackle the questions readers past and present ask when a book is banned for a bad reason.

Q: In light of contemporary authors Rainbow Rowell and Meg Madina’s having their talks cancelled at the last minute, how does it benefit students to learn more about writing/reading when school boards or individual parents take them away for sometimes insignificant portions of a story?

Denise: Taking away books is never a benefit to a student. It’s already difficult to get some of them to read, but when you take away the books they identify with it’s even more difficult. Though, in many ways a banned book can benefit an author, which is the complete opposite of what those pushing for a ban want to accomplish. You tell a teen, “Don’t drink and party.” Do they do it anyway? Yup!

So, if you tell a teen, “Don’t read this book because it has sex, violence, and bad language,” do you really expect them to listen? They won’t. The book will now be read more widely, which benefits the author. And I guess, if the students are reading the books that were banned, it could, in the end, benefit them for having read it. So, I change my mind. To those who choose rebellion and read the book anyway, there is a benefit.

Courtesy of Google Images

Courtesy of Google Images

Q: While school boards have the authority to remove books, should there be more consideration or regulation before a quality book is taken out of the hands of willing students?

Denise: The process for getting a book removed should be highly involved, forcing the parent to prove why the book is harmful. A book should never be banned based on one parent’s complaint. It should take a whole pack of parents. I mean, like, petition numbers. In so many ways, this is complete arrogance. One parent decides, “I don’t want my child reading this,” and therefore decrees that no child anywhere should read this.

Why should other parents get to say what my child reads in school? It’s one thing to go to a teacher and explain that you’d rather she assign a different book for your child, based on your personal morals. It’s quite another to go to a school board and force an entire high school of hundreds or thousands of students to follow your personal moral code.

 

Q: When do you feel it is necessary to ban a book, and why?

Denise: I don’t know that I ever feel it’s necessary. Teachers select books that they feel will speak to the students and will teach them something. Don’t we trust our teachers’ opinions anymore? If I questioned a book, the first thing I would do is read it myself. This should be a requirement for all parents pushing a ban. Then, I’d talk to the teacher and ask her why she thought it was worthwhile. Teachers aren’t idiots. We need to trust the teachers’ opinions that the content value outweighs what could be seen as a problem and not put our kids into a reading bubble.

I will make this concession. Four different school shootings were said to have been influenced by Stephen King’s (writing as Richard Bachman) book Rage. Here is a case where it was proven that this book could potentially be harmful. I think if this happens once with a book, you can’t blame the book; twice, you start to wonder, but after four, okay. In this case, I haven’t heard that it was required or suggested reading by any high school, and the author himself asked the publisher to discontinue the printing of it. And I should mention that the book is now harder to find and is highly valuable on the resell markets. People want to read it simply because it caused these problems and because it’s not available.

Amanda: Even as a devoted Stephen King “constant reader,” I’ve read Rage and I must agree with Denise in this scenario because some books (although well-executed) are not destined for public eyes due to their extreme content.

bachmanQ: Which famously banned book have you read simply because it was on the list?

Denise: I recently purchased The Bachman Books, a collection that includes Rage, and it was only because of the circumstances surrounding it. Not every day does an author pull his own book. Beyond that, I don’t generally pay attention to the lists because I think they’re utterly ridiculous and useless. I would read them all and I may even make a concerted effort to read them all just because. Luckily, my mother never felt it necessary to restrict my reading. When I was in high school, Catcher in the Rye was still required reading and it should be. It’s fabulous and I remember it being one of the only books I liked of what was required. And it got banned, why? Bad language and poop? I mean, really. There’s a sex scene in Romeo and Juliet. Where’s the outrage there? We even watched the 1960s version of the movie where there was a boob! “Ban it!” said no parent.

Q: What would your response be if one of your books was banned?

Denise: I would shout for joy. Not only would this ban mean that teens everywhere will now be clamoring to read my book while hiding it in their textbooks, but also the book will be talked about on various web sites and media outlets and in multiple discussions around the bake sale table. You can’t buy publicity like that! In fact, when I heard that Eleanor & Park was banned, Rainbow posted about it on Facebook, and I left her a congratulatory comment.

Q: If you could suggest any banned book to the masses, what would it be and why?

Denise: All of them! Read all the books everywhere! Reading banned books is a much better way to be rebellious than, say, trying out shoplifting.

Amanda: As we near the end of this impromptu interview, Denise has a few final notes in regards to the discussion of banning books in an age where students are learning to use an ipod before they have a healthy dose of books and poetry.

Do I believe that a parent should monitor what their kids read/watch/listen to? Absolutely. Do I believe have the right to tell teachers what their children are permitted to read? Sure, but one parent does not have the right to take away a book from a kid who might desperately need it. Therein is the tragedy. Eleanor & Park is a beautiful book about subjects that aren’t always tackled in such a real way. There are teens out there that need Eleanor & Park.

What really makes my blood boil is the reason the books are being banned: Bad language? Sex? Violence?  Are we forgetting that all of these are highly available to teens, but also that most are already experiencing them? Is a teen who uses the f-word more often than he changes his boxer shorts going to relate more to a book like Eleanor & Park, which has real teens being teens, or Romeo and Juliet, which is so far removed from our current way of life that even adults struggle to understand what the heck Shakespeare was talking about? I had to read Romeo and Juliet in high school. I did not enjoy it and I was frustrated by it.

My guess would also be that those same parents freaking out over a book with a handful of curse words do not monitor every Facebook chat, every phone conversation, and every lunchroom argument. Teens curse. They have sex. They get violent. They even drink. Is reading a book going to make them do any of these things more than they already do? Doubtful, but at least they’ll be reading. In the end, drinking to the point of drunkenness won’t increase their intelligence (in fact, quite the opposite—you know, dead brain cells and all), but reading a book about someone drinking into oblivion will expand their minds and make them just a little smarter.

I’d rather read a book with my child and explain it to her than to have her go around, reading things behind my back that she might be left to interpret (possibly misinterpret) on her own. At her age range (7), some parents try to keep out anything with magic or fantasy in it (like “Tinkerbell” or “My Little Pony”). I made the decision to teach her that magic is not real, animals do not actually talk, and sadly, there are no unicorns or Pegasus horses. As a result, she has a wild imagination that will benefit her all through life, and I love that. If I see her behavior change negatively as a result of a certain show or book, then I’ll cut it and explain why. It’s always better to teach them what is an untruth and/or wrong behavior than to try to remove every hint of it.

Incoming random kitty picture for your viewing pleasure. A.K.A. Mommy showing off her kitty’s Christmas present:

At the top of her new, 80-inch cat tree. Love my Bengal baby!

At the top of her new, 80-inch cat tree. Love my Bengal baby!

I want to thank my lovely colleague and fellow grad student, Denise Drespling, for the time she took to be my guest this week. Mosey on over to her delightful website where you can read her exciting trip through NaNoWriMo and other writing-related posts. Denise is one the most talented and determined writers I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. And don’t forget to check out the plagiarism checker by Grammarly that helps this grateful blogger to write a thorough blog post.

Happy reading and writing my lovelies!

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