Book vs Movie

It’s a good thing that we don’t have to choose. We can love them both. Or can we?

Many books are made into movies. People love it, seeing their favourite characters take life, watching the story that played out in their head take shape on the screen. For some who didn’t read the book, they can pretend they did.  For authors, it seems like the ultimate to have their book made into TV or a movie.

Am I the only one who won’t watch a movie if I’ve read the book? Possibly.

Okay, so I’ve broken my own rule a few times, only to reaffirm my reasons never to do it again. The movie can never capture the intricacy of the characters. It won’t be able to present the whole plot in the time limit of a feature length film. And worst of all, after seeing the film, my own image of the characters and story, the one that played out as the words took shape in my mind, were replaced forever by the images of the movie. It’s strange that it happens but it does and it bothers me.

Once again I am considering this question: Do I See the Movie? I have just finished reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (yes I know I’m the last person to read it) and the movie is out getting great reviews. I haven’t seen the original 2009 films but now that I’ve read the book, I’m tempted to see the David Fincher version. One, I’m a fan of Trent Reznor and I love the soundtrack. Two, Daniel Craig, enough said. Three, I didn’t love the book (shocker) and so how disappointed could I be?

So here I go, about to break my rule again. Maybe this time will be different.


The Versatile Blogger

Thanks to Krista Walsh for passing along The Versatile Blogger Award to me.  It’s green, it has curly writing and it means she enjoys my blog.  I think she’s pretty cool too.  We even blogged on the same topic last week without knowing it.  Check her out here

The award requires me to share seven things about myself but as I’ve done that with the One Lovely Blog Award, I’ll change it up this time, just for me.  Here follows seven things that I wish were true about me (except being extremely wealthy since that goes without saying).  Think of it like a Christmas wish list since ’tis the season!  It’s all just dreamin’ stuff cause truth be known, if you always want things you don’t have…well enough preaching.

  • I want black hair.  Yes, I could dye my hair but then I’d have to keep doing it and I’m too lazy for that.
  • I wish I lived on the beach.  Not just someplace warm, not a lake.  The ocean.
  • I wish I could take a ride in a time machine, preferably a DeLorean.  No I wouldn’t go to ancient egypt or the time of the dinosaurs.  I’d set it to late 1990 Seattle and get a front row spot for Nirvana.
  • I wish I could meet a genie (or 2.3 genies) so that all these wishes could come true.
  • I wish I could always spell without spell check.
  • I wish there was world peace (this should be further up the list, shouldn’t it?).
  • And of course, being a writer, I want to write for a living.  All writing, all day, all good reviews.

Okay, now that I’m back on solid ground, I need to pass this award along to other bloggers I’ve discovered and enjoy.  These bloggers are: John Wiswell, Natalie Westgate and Larry Kollar.  Check them out: great bloggers who write!

Thanks for dreaming with me for a little while.  This Christmas, I hope all your wishes come true, especially the one about world peace.


Community

I guess you can be a writer on your own without the support and friendship of others writers, it’s just harder…and not as much fun.

I was introduced to someone recently who is almost finished writing her first book.  She was eager to speak to another writer, someone who speaks the same language.  I listened as she explained her book’s premise and fielded her questions, as best I could, on writing courses and next steps.  But she wasn’t part of a critique group.  I thought back to when I was in her position. It wasn’t long ago, exactly a year since I joined the online writing group at Kelley Armstrong’s forum. I’d finished a book six months prior and didn’t know anyone who wrote, knew nothing of the industry, little fish in a big pond.  But connect with other writers who know how hard it is to get published, who understand writing, who will listen to your rants and suddenly the pond feels smaller – or at least more manageable.

Then there’s the critique itself.  I won’t even read my original first draft anymore (yet somehow can’t bring myself to delete it).  I never imagined how much my writing could change and improve once I let my words loose in the hands of other writers.  But how can you tell someone whose baby is about to be born after a long labour that the hard work is just beginning? Tough one.

Then there’s blogging and twitter. More community, more support, more connections to the world I love. All those writerly types out there who share a passion and commitment.  So I ask myself…the legendary authors of the classics, the ones who wrote before the age of the internet…how did they do it without the resources we have now?  Somehow they managed, it probably just wasn’t this much fun.


Scribbles Blog Hop

This week I am participating in Scibbles Hop and along with fellow writers and bloggers, will share the role my journal plays in my own writing practice.  Below is a list of other Scribbles Hoppers.  I hope you have a chance to visit them all and read about how their journals add to their writing experience.

A journal is also a tool for self-discovery, an aid to concentration, a mirror for the soul, a place to generate and capture ideas, a safety valve for the emotions, a training ground for the writer, and a good friend and confidant.  (Ron Klug)

To some people a journal is some of the above, to others it is all this and more.  But I think everyone would say their journal is REFLECTIVE.  That’s the key for me.  It’s the personal element of putting pen to paper, the slower pace of forming sentences that forces words to gel in a way it might not when hands are flying across the keyboard. 

I scribble lots of unrelated things in my journal, from a quote that inspires me, to a tip I heard about plotting.  I’ll also write portions of a whole such as a paragraph for an important moment or an exchange of dialogue.    While I rarely write large pieces by hand, I will plot out a scene in my journal before I write it on my laptop.  I will jot down the sequence of events in point form, any foreshadowing I want to include, even a line of dialogue that I have in my head.  By the time I set fingers to keys, this first step keeps the scene flowing, making the writing more fluid and the writer more focused.  Whether I have to refer back to the page or not, the scene is clear in my head, along with all the hits I need to make.  Before I started doing this, I often remembered something afterwards that I missed in the heat of the writing moment, even a subtle interchange that was important but then it’s hard to go back and interrupt what’s already written.

Below is a photo of a page from my journal of a scene that had to be just right, an example of how I plot the scene before I write it.  (Spoilers for those of you following my critique posts.) 

I couldn’t resist sharing another writer’s journal.  With special permission from my six year old daughter, I have included a page from her writing journal.  This journal is sparkly pink with a big “A” for “awesome” because her initial was sold out.  I think she’s pretty awesome, and so is her writing.  This photo is from her WIP “Kitty and Natalie.”

 

Leave a comment and tell me how your journal helps you.  And don’t forget to check out the other Scribbles Hop Bloggers and their insights into the use of writing journals:

Danielle La Paglia

Anne Michaud 

Victoria D Griesdoorn 

Ren Warom 

J.A. Campbell 

Tammy Crosby 

Maria Kelly 

Chrissey Harrison 

Natalie Westgate 

Tony Noland 

Larry Kollar


In My Forest

For all of you who are getting “lost” in your stories this NaNoWriMo, here is a little something for you.  

In My Forest by Marianne Su

My scene wasn’t done.  My character was still lost in the forest.  I shifted in my chair and forced my fingers to tap along the keys, focusing on the clicking sound to keep me awake in the dark room.  My eyes wanted to squint against the cruel glare of my laptop but I forced them open, just a little more.

I needed another cup of coffee.  I reached over to grab the mug off the table beside me.  Half a cup of cold coffee.  Good enough.  I gulped it down.  Caffeine was caffeine.  Besides, making a fresh cup would take precious minutes away from finishing the scene.

Meg’s legs carried her through the forest.  It was getting cold.  I wrapped myself tighter in the blanket, lifting my icy feet and burying them in the soft fleece.  I slurped the last drop of cold coffee from the bottom of my mug and kept typing.  Meg was losing hope.  A brisk wind blew hair into my face.  I reached up to sweep it away as disturbed leaves rustled around me.  I spun around, hearing the snapping of twigs under my feet.  Prickling spikes reached for me, taunted me as I raced through the branches, my vision blurred with confusion.  The forest was quiet.  The night was dark.  Like Meg, I was lost.

I had to find a way back.  Pinching my arm didn’t work.  Screaming didn’t work.  I ran.  Out into the clearing I tumbled, tripping and falling onto the soft moss.  The night shone down on me, not with the brilliance of stars but with electronic luminescence.  Words scrolled across the sky.  My words.  I reached up, the distance to the screen not deterring my attempt to reach the only trace of where I belonged.  My scream filled the empty forest as a hand appeared up above, visible through the screen in the sky.  His voice, calling for me, echoed off the trees, so distant.  A click, a shutdown box flashed across the screen.  I screamed a futile protest as the laptop went black, leaving me alone with the dim stars, forever lost in my forest.  

 


A Song for the Crowds

by Marianne Su

They start calling my name as the lights dim.  The others run up the stairs ahead of me.  Their appearance triggers the familiar chant and flood of lights.  It’s a ritual that repeats itself, punctuating my life, night after night.  An outstretched hand slaps me on the back as I step onto the stairs and force my reluctant legs to carry me into the spotlight.

The noise erupts as the band starts up.  The bouncing bodies and waving hands are anonymous until the floodlights reveal their faces.  I scan the front row.  Night after night they all look the same.  Wide eyed with expectation and admiration, they shout out to me, indistinct and meaningless.    

With the first chords of the guitar, darkness swallows them whole again, leaving me with the brutal allusion that I’m alone on stage with the music.  I grab the microphone and yell out the words the way they like.  Erupting screams compete with a chorus of voices singing lyrics.  I close my eyes to focus on the night I wrote that song, the night the words meant something, before they were claimed by the voices of thousands. 

As their song comes to an end, I ease my eyes open to face the crowd.  With a mental swift kick, I remind myself that this is the wish of every dreamer with a guitar.  I had a good thing.  If only I hadn’t lost the music along the way.


Flashbacks

So you’re into a story, feeling the characters, loving the plot…and then you’re thrown into a chunk of a flashback.  First reaction?  Most people just want to read through them so they can get back to the real story. 

So what does a writer do when they’re crucial to the plot and characters?  Lately I’ve been struggling with that question.  A lot of what I hear is that flashbacks don’t work but then again I’ve read writers who do them well.  My WIP has a strong backstory that can only be told through flashbacks so I’ve been spending countless hours working and reworking them and this is what I’ve discovered so far:

1)      Keep the Crucial:  Once finished, the reader should be able to pinpoint the reason for the flashback and feel empowered with that new knowledge as the main storyline continues.  Remember that their purpose is to provide information crucial to the story in a way that’s as compelling as the rest of your story. 

2)      Keep them Short:  The flashback has a purpose, right?  So get to the point.  Make them only as long as they need to be and no longer.  Similarly, they should be used sparingly as they can slow down the story (I’m still working on this). 

3)      Make them Clear:  Flashbacks can be jarring and confusing (not to mention annoying) if it’s not clear what’s happening.  If you’re going back in time, the reader should be aware of it.  Sometimes starting a flashback at the beginning of a new chapter or using section breaks can be helpful.  Some people have suggested using italics for the whole flashback but this just makes it hard to read.  I prefer to use the narrative to show the reader they are going back in time.

4)      Make us Care: The placement and timing of the flashback is key.  It took me a while to figure this out but now I know that at the time of the flashback, the reader has to really care about what happened in this character’s past.  In other words, the flashback must be built up so the reader is left with a hole that needs to be filled, a “why” question that needs an answer.  This gives the flashback some weight and immediacy.    

I don’t generally believe in writing rules so these I use more as guidelines for myself.  I will continue to experiment with this so if you have any tips or opinions on writing flashbacks, I invite you to offer them here.


One Lovely Blog Award

It was an otherwise uneventful afternoon when Dianne notified me of the news.  I’m one of the latest recipients of the One Lovely Blog Award.  Thanks, Dianne.  I accept and comply with the request to provide seven facts about myself.  So here I go…seven facts about myself?  For the next few moments, pretend that you’ve been wishing lately that you know more about me.  I hope I don’t disappoint you…

One: I love music.  But avoid radio.  I prefer to find my own music through the internet and friend referrals.  Although I’m a writer and appreciate lyrics in songs, some of my favourite songs are not examples of lyrical genius.  “School” by Nirvana has just four lines of lyrics “No Recess, No Recess..” everyone now…

Two: I can touch my tongue to my nose.  (I’m getting desperate here)  Doesn’t sound like much but only a small portion of people can actually do this.  I’m proud to say that thanks to my strong genes, my daughter has inherited this talent and proudly boasts this fact.  (Got you trying this, didn’t I?)

Three: I never wear socks.  I live in Toronto and winters can get cold but I don’t wear socks on a daily basis.  If I’m out in the cold all day, I’ll reluctantly bend this rule.

Four: I’ve always wanted to paint.  When I win the lottery (or retire) I plan to spend my time wasting away with a brush and canvas (just like a certain mc of mine).

Five: I have an interest, bordering on obsession, in bracelets.  I wear the same earrings most of the time, don’t like necklaces, sometimes do chunky rings, but bracelets…love them.

Six: Once had a psychic tell me I’d marry into royalty…Kate Middleton must have been sitting nearby.

Seven: According to my three kids, I am the best mother in the world.  This wasn’t determined through scientific survey but I thought I’d mention it since despite the above fascinating facts, this one is most important to me.

Now for the next step in this honour, here is my (short) list of nominees, both very lovely bloggers:

Natalie Westgate (who is busy moving and may not be able to respond to this for a few weeks)

Heidi

 


Table Ten

by Marianne Su

The tray of empty glasses wobbled on my outstretched hand as I came to a stop.  My eyes focused on table ten, knowing who I’d find.  Breath stalled in my chest for a moment while I studied his face from across the room.  His hair was longer than I’d remembered.  Strands drifted across his face, hiding the eyes that could persuade me.  No.  That was then.  I forced my mind to recall the last time I’d seen him, the night I’d decided I wasn’t like him.

Table four flagged me down.  They wanted a dessert menu.  I nodded and turned.  One dessert menu was all that stood between me and taking orders at table ten.  The heels of my shoes were loud and heavy against the concrete floor despite the Saturday buzz all around.  The bartender mumbled something as I slid the tray towards him, glasses clinking.  Leaning over the counter to get the menus, I glanced up, looked at him from across the darkened room.  All possibility that he’d wandered in without knowing I worked there disappeared when he lifted his eyes to meet mine.  The curve of his mouth was barely visible from a distance but the glint in his eye as he held my gaze confirmed the worst: he had no intention of letting me go.

I stood tall, remembering that I was stronger than he thought.  I tugged at my short skirt and shoved the notepad deep into my apron pocket.  I was not taking his order.  I strode between the tables, my eyes trained on him, determined not to give away the rising self-doubt. 

“You’re wasting your time here,” I said, leaning forward, my hands resting on the table.

He turned towards me, chin in his hand, eyeing me with those cold eyes I’d come to hate, even when I saw them in my own reflection. 

“I could say the same to you.”  He grabbed my wrist.  Wide eyed, he scanned the room from one end to the other.  “All these people and you’re not even a little tempted?”

I pulled my hand away from his.  The smell of fresh kill on his breath repelled me backwards.  That scent of death triggered my mind to replay images from my memory I needed to forget.  I turned on my heels.  The cackle of his laughter taunted me from behind.  My hands went to my gut, urging the appetite to recede.  Instead, it pulled at me, digging deeper.  I heard the rush of blood.  Not mine.  Reason fought with need as I rushed past the bar, away from the crowds. 

I tugged at the apron strings and flung aside the costume of the life I’d tried to adopt.  My hands braced my head, squeezing, forcing out the anger, knowing that once it started, it would take over and reverse the gains I’d made.  Rage pulsed through me, driving its way to the surface, bubbling like a chemistry experiment gone wrong.  I needed out. 

I was running by the time I got to the kitchen.  I sped past the steaming pots.  Pushing past the kitchen staff, I gagged on the sweaty smell of their mortality, a threat to my resolve.  I kicked open the back door and barrelled into the darkness.  Moisture from the misty rain glistened in the light from the street lamps but the cool air didn’t appease the craving.  The bang of the door swinging shut echoed in the distance behind me as I ran. 

Up ahead in the alley stood a figure.  A police officer, his flashlight trained on me, a look of concern on his face.  Was I okay, he asked.  I wanted to tell him to run, but it was too late to escape me.  He stepped closer, telling me this wasn’t a good place to be at night.  He was right.  I fought the rising urge, the temptation closing in.  I tried to swallow the hunger within but there was no escape from who I was.  As I lunged, I heard the laughter from table ten drifting from somewhere in the shadows, arrogant and mocking. 

Like an addict, I vowed that would be the last time.  I tried to convince myself that the victim who lay crumpled at my feet wasn’t a good man, that he wouldn’t be missed.  In the tear that I wiped from my face, I felt the hope I needed, the strength of my conscience.  I could not give up.  I would go back, find that apron and begin again.


Here I am in Blog Land

So I’ve got a blog. 

Not sure now how that all happened.  I mean, I’ve resisted jumping into it for a long time.  I thought, it’s not necessary for writers to have a web presence.  Then I thought, it’ll be one more thing for me to do, that may take away from writing time. 

But in the end, the appeal is the audience.  It’s a place for me to share all the words that come out of my head, the stories that need to be told, the characters who want to be heard.  After all, that’s what we writers want: an audience. 

Thank you for visiting my new website.  I look forward to posting my writing and my thoughts on writing.