Monday, January 16, 2012

A Question of Adaptation

The last time I read a Charles Dickens novel was in high school.

Okay, perhaps "read" is too generous; "skimmed" would be closer to the truth. You'd never know it by the grades I got on the quizzes and essays, but I've always been excellent at acing those sorts of things. My point here being, I don't remember much about any of his stories, except that I didn't particularly like them, certainly not enough to actually read them through like I was supposed to -- sorry, my high school English teachers! Sorry, Charles Dickens!

Harry Lloyd also happens to be the great-great-great-grand-son of
the actual Charles Dickens, adding to his awesome factor.
A few days ago, however, I watched the BBC's new adaptation of Dicken's classic, Great Expectations. I'll be honest: I was only watching it because I'd seen some fan-made graphics that showcased the mini-series' beautiful cinematography and also because Harry Lloyd's in it, one of my favorite actors.

I'd seen an adaptation of Great Expectations before, but recall it being rather boring. This version was not the case. I found myself really interested in the story and characters for the first time, and intrigued by the mystery of Pip's benefactor and how his relationship with Estella would turn out, having largely forgotten most of the plot (if I ever really knew it at all) ahead of time.

This made me think about television and movie adaptations and how they effect the perception of source material, most often a book. I know a lot of people espouse a vitriolic hatred for book adaptations and sometimes rightly so, usually because a lot gets lost in the translation. I've seen a few pretty awful adaptations in my time. I don't want to name names but Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief is the first that comes to mind. Great children's book; terrible movie. Without giving any major spoilers, they took out the main antagonist (for reasons I still couldn't tell you) and left out one of what I considered the best scenes of the book. Also, there wasn't enough Sean Bean as Zeus, but then again that might just be me. 

On the reverse, I've seen some great adaptations, too, such as the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Based on the trailer alone, the upcoming Hunger Games movie looks like it'll be good, too. One can only hope, anyway!

In some instances, I think an adaptation can actually get people interested in the book and get them reading which is always a great thing. The danger, of course, is that the adaptation could be horrible and turn off a lot of people from checking out something that might be wonderful as a book or video game. Generally, it's my nature to keep cautiously optimistic about adaptations; I'm always willing to give them a chance to impress me. And such as the case with Great Expectations, I was delightfully surprised.

What are your feelings on TV and film adaptations of books and other mediums?

Friday, January 13, 2012

I'm Alive, I Swear!

Let me start by wishing you all a (belated) Happy New Year! We're two weeks into 2012, enough time to put some resolutions to the test. Here's hoping you're all staying strong with those goals!

I have a good feeling about this year, although that could be partly because of all the excellent movies coming out. The Hunger Games, anyone? Or how about The Avengers? I'm just saying, the movie theatres might as well just take my money now. That's not even counting War Horse and Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows which have already been released that I still need to see. While I usually wait for most films to come out on DVD, there's some movies that just have to be seen on the big screen. Here's a few others that look interesting: W.E.Snow White & the Huntsman, and The Iron Lady which is already playing.

Apart from drooling over movie trailers, here's what I've been up to lately:

1. Working on my novel. This has been a 24/7 job as the process of writing a novel often is. Most days, it seems that even when I'm not writing, I'm thinking of writing, manufacturing dialogue and weaving tangled plot twists in my head.  All in all, it's been an enlightening experience thus far, and I'm learning a lot about myself, my writing, and the magic of discipline. Even if it's taking me longer than I expected! I'm getting close to the end now which has brought on some bittersweet angst -- the excitement of wrapping up loose ends and finally being done, the pressure of getting the end right, and the sadness of saying goodbye to characters that I've spent the last four and half months getting to know quite intimately, especially my protagonist who's proven to be quite the trooper.

2. Making fanvids. As I mentioned in my last blog post, I like to make fanvids for characters from movies and shows that I like. You can watch a happy one. Or a less happy one. Spoilers for Thor in the latter.

3. Updating my blog layout. You may have noticed, but O, My Kingdom for a Plot! is now 90% more blue! And there's also a somewhat blurred castle in the background! Cue the ooh-ing and ahh-ing! Kidding aside, I wanted to get a little more color up in here, straying from a tendency to go with shades of brown. Fun fact: blue was historically associated with girls (and pink with boys) until the 1930s-40s.

4. Not placing in the Writers of the Future contest. After perusing the forums, I knew I didn't have much of a chance, which was confirmed with a form rejection email. However, I'm aware of some things to do differently, and I'll likely enter again some time in the future.

5. Playing video games/reading/watching British shows/pretty much everything else that isn't working on my novel. There's a quote in circulation that goes something along the lines of, "a writer will do almost anything to avoid writing" and I've found it sadly true on more than one occasion. But! I just like to call everything else "research." You never know where you'll find plot bunnies hiding! They're sneaky like that. Plus, I'm currently stocking up on all things fantasy as I'd really like to write my own some time this year.

And speaking of, I'd love any reading recommendations for fantasy books, be they adult or YA! So please shoot some suggestions my way! Hey, that rhymed.