Talking About Some Deaths in Literature

Death is kind of on my mind a lot recently. My grandfather (who I wrote about here), died on February 9 and the loss of him and how it has impacted my every day thoughts had really made me think about death in relation to a lot of things around me. In my author-esq head, it’s not surprising that literature found its way into the mental ramblings (or should we just be honest and call them distractions from reality?).

It seems many times we don’t take “dead” very seriously in literature. Unless it is gruesome (Hi, George R.R. Martin!), or the other characters are seriously changed because of it for the worse (Seriously, why did Little Nell have to snuff it?), many times it seems to float past us as a plot device. Is it because we have a long history of people returning to life in books so it doesn’t feel as final? (Aslan, Gandalf, every comic book character, and most religious stories, etc.) The corpse is rarely there in a story, unless it has just happened; that could be part of it as well.

Death in writing is a plot device. It is a tool both sharp as a knife and as a blunt as a sledgehammer.  We cheer when bad guys die. We look at a death sacrifice as heroic, not thinking of the final end that just happened to a character.

Is it simply because we don’t see characters as “human?” So maybe it is more a fault of us writers that a readers feels, or doesn’t feel, the loss. There might be something to it. I wrote a book, MEGAN, that is built around a death and I tried to show a character from being told of the death of another with all the initial stages of acceptance over the course of a day. Hmmm… Probably why the work isn’t as popular on amazon.com than my time-traveling adventure, My Problem With Doors. So clearly, death is not a selling point.

There is a lesson there  I learned that you will not need to now. You can thank me later.

Sometimes a death can slip right by, almost as an afterthought. My favorite example of this is the first Harry Potter book. One thing I love to point out to people is that Harry Potter begins with a double homicide. Yes, we see the scene later in the series (We get a little description in the first book, just a taste). And while JK Rowling does her best to take a light approach to that first chapter (Vernon in all his heavy-set foolishness), it doesn’t change the fact the story really started the evening before when Voldemort went into the home of the Potters and slaughtered them gleefully. Continue reading

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Writer’s Corner: Four Projects I Would Love to Adapt for the Silver Screen…

A few days ago I went through some of my old writing files on my computer seeing what jumps out at me and what inspires me today; and, for some unexplained reason, my mind began to think about film adaptations.

There is a great public misnomer about film adaptations. When you hear people talk about films adapted from books or plays, the audience seems to think that the screenplay writer had a choice in making changes for the big screen. “Why couldn’t he have just filmed the book?” You would hear that complaint a lot around the Harry Potter films in podcasts and forums, for example.

The fact is film is a different medium than books, and with it comes its own limitations and strengths. While the borders on a book are only limited by the imagination of the reader (and writer), a film has to be focused on one point at a time, understanding that there is only so much space on the screen at any given moment. Length, pacing, and audience need to be considered (You can’t have things happen “off screen” in a movie, for example; the audience will think it didn’t happen if they didn’t see it).

The greatest difference between film and books, is that a film has got to “earn” your attention for every minute. It is harder for a film to “suspend disbelief.” Which means a story, while in a book can be stretched out, in a film there has to be action. In other words, there must always be movement; it’s how they keep our eyes on the screen and our hands out of the popcorn bowl. Continue reading

One of My Favorite Finds of Last Year: Graphic Audio’s DC Titles

I have a new review up on GreenSpotBlue today.  This one is a find I am really excited about, as you will see from my review. In many ways, Graphic Audio are bringing life to an artform I thought was dead and that is, in my humble opinion, awesome.  Here is the beginning of my review:

This may sound like the beginning of a bad country song, but when I found Graphic Audio, I was not looking for love just a way to pass the time.

See, in 2011, my daughter was born and after the experience of her older brother I knew I needed something to help keep me awake and focused during late night feedings… or even afternoon feedings (something about holding a sleeping baby that knocks me out every time). Continue reading

10 Works I Wish I Had Written

Sometimes I feel like December and January are the times all entertainment Web sites and writers set aside for creating lists.  We drown in them; from movies, to books, to important people, etc.  Lists after lists after lists.

Don’t worry, this is not one of those lists.  This is something a little more personal.

I’ve been, since starting this blog, trying to rethink my writing and my goals, and one thing I am trying to latch on to is what stimulates me, what means something to me.  What do I want to accomplish in my own writing?

This list is of ten creations that, at one time or another, touched me as a storyteller.  There is no particular order, no best to worst.

Are these choices the best in their mediums? No, not all of them. Are these things that I could have written? A few, I think with the initial spark I could have devised in a way. Are these works that inspire me? Most definitely. Continue reading