Wednesday, 27 June 2012
Incredible stretchy pants
Is it possible to create something that combines all four aspects of character, plot, action and detail? I suspect we all set out to do all four but, somewhere down the line, we start to major on one or two of these at the expense of the others. Probably not on purpose, but we focus on the bits that interest us most. I started this train of thought just after going to see the Avengers movie. Visually impressive, if a little intense. Plot? Not really. Action, most certainly. Characterisation? Well they tried. Captain America was uptight and upright. Bruce Banner and the Iron Man guy were meant to be geeky and the Black Widow was meant to be a hard edged spy and assassin (no, there's none of her DNA in Echo). So, a good idea but,actually, they were all completely out-acted by the Hulk, who was a cartoon and had the best line in the whole film. And the most remarkable trousers. I know I'm a writer rather than a film director but, as I've said before, I'm just writing down details of the film that's playing in my head. I'm curious to know if other writers are the same. So, trying to be objective, can I manage all four of those things? No Character - I have two main characters who I think are reasonably interesting and feedback, particularly about Echo, has been reasonably positive. The others are mostly cardboard cut outs although I'm trying to make a few of them three dimensional so that you'll care about the one(s)who die. Plot - well there's a few large holes in the plot of Echo. Some of them are there on purpose as I've been intending to fill them in E2, or possibly in E3. The broad outline is in my head and I actually wrote it down in some detail when writing Echo although stuff changed as I wrote, when I had to follow the characters rather than forcing them to obey the plan. My intentions for E2 have changed recently. I'm on chapter 6 and, by now, we should have moved into Vargrr space and we should be well on our way to finding the Clarke. But the crew of the citadel are trapped on the cruiser Admiral Stobo and trying to fight their way out. The plot of E2 was set in motion in Echo and I think it will be a simpler story that the first, although I do have a few loose ends to sort out and so it may become more complex. Action - there was action in Echo, but I'm starting to see that E2 is probably going to have more action than E1. Echo was mostly about the relationship between two people. E2 details the breakdown of that relationship (temporary or permanent, I'm not saying -partly because I haven't decided). Detail - as I've said before, I think my job is to create a framework and for the reader to create their own film. I think i'll be majoring on action and characterisation. But I've been wrong before. It's an exciting ride. But enough about me, what does the reader want from me when they boot up their Kindle?And do they want the same thing every time? With books, I'm ALWAYS looking for the same thing. Reasonable plot but strong characterisation (and minimal description). I was about to say that films are different but I think I'd be wrong. I went to see the Avengers movie not because of the film but because I wanted to have some Dad and boys time. We bought fizzy and sweeties and had a laugh at the jokes (the boys seemed to be pretty indifferent to Gwyneth Paltrow, but then they're 13 and haven't quite got girls yet) Star Wars, my all time favourite film is still visually stunning and all the more impressive considering the limited technology but, if I was going to be objective, could have been so much more. It's easy to forget how dark a film it is. Luke's uncle and aunt are reduced to smoking skeletons, Obi Wan chops off somebody's arm in a bar fight, a whole planet is destroyed and Han Solo fired first. But that level of menace isn't sustained, Luke is transformed into ace pilot and Han into a good guy. I hear the original version was panned by audiences and only drastic editing saved it from being scrapped. Partly I wonder whether a director's cut would be a good thing or whether Biggs Darklighter, a major character who was completely cut from the final version, is better as a pub trivia question. Look at what happened when George Lucas finally got the technology to create the film he really wanted. Did he beef up the characters or add meaty plot? No, he just coloured it in. Enough on star wars. Alien. Plot. Not really. Detail- dark, greasy, grim. Characters? Ripley develops well but the others are basically just there to make up numbers. Action- absolutely, and the scariest film I've seen I'd argue that nobody does everything well and great things have been created by focussing on one or two parts rather than trying to do the lot. Overanalysing is probably not a good thing. Will it make my book better? Probably not. Will it make it less fun? It might. Despite it being an old question, I did spend part of the Avengers thinking about how come the Hulk, who was massively too big for Bruce Banner's jeans wasn't naked but, when he turned back, Bruce Banner, who fit the jeans, was.