Apology NOT Accepted

There are a lot of stories out there.  There are the big hits that stick through the ages, like The Great Gatsby or Gone With the Wind.  But then there are also the ones at the bottom of the pyramid, the thousands upon thousands of books, novellas, short stories, and other such fiction that come and go without anyone noticing.

And, like books, there are many different types of authors.  There’s the one-hit wonder, who right off the bat writes a hit story and then never goes back (J.K. Rowling for example, though I’m sure she’ll write something more eventually).  Then there are the struggling authors, who work for years just to get one book on the shelves, and keep writing, but somehow never make it to the big time.  And then the author everyone’s heard of, simply because he or she has written so many books even they can’t remember the names of them all.  (I once heard an interview with one where he could not even recall the name of his most recent novel.)

But, through every genre and type of book, through every level of fame, even down to the lowliest books whose only publicity is just awful reviews, there is one thing that authors just never do:

Apologize.

You never hear an author go out on record and say, “I’m sorry for writing my novel.  It’s terrible, I know.  I’m recalling it, I won’t do it again, end of story.”  No.  It isn’t done.

And do you know why, in my opinion, it isn’t done?

Because the stories are not wrong.  If an author has a story in their head, they go out and they write it down and they get it published.  It doesn’t matter what it is.  The author knows that this is what they wanted to write.  It isn’t at all their fault when the book doesn’t sell, or when it gets bad reviews, or when entire hater websites are set up.

Sure, the public may not like the book.  But writers don’t write for the readers.  Well, yes, to a certain extent, it has to give you a warm fuzzy feeling inside when someone likes what you’ve written.  But the writers, deep down, are writing for the writers.  For themselves.  Because they want to see their story in print, because they, at least, know it’s good.

Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t apologize for anything.  After all, new editions fixing grammar or continuity mistakes is a form of apology, at least in my eyes.  But that’s because the author doesn’t intend those mistakes.  They get in the way of the narrative, anyway.

I’m saying that the concrete thing, the thing that deserves no apology, is that narrative.  The story, the plot, whatever you should choose to call it.  And especially your core.

So, dear readers, I’m guess what I’m trying to say is never be ashamed of what you’ve written.  When it comes down to it, really, who cares about the haters?

Other News:

Some of the Hunger Games fandom is reaching out to other fans about the recent famine in Somalia and other parts of Africa.  Hunger Is NOT A Game is a new initiative to provide food for starving families in refugee camps.  It’s really awesome that these people are connecting the series and the fandom to a real-life situation that we can all help with.  So check out the site!

Happy reading.

The Problem With Book-Inspired Movies

Lately the world has been immersed in movies that in fact were books first (or, more frequently, comic books).  And so, inevitably, this brings along the most intense scrutiny from fans of the books.  I’ve noted before on this site that I am a stickler for accuracy.  This leads to countless disappointments in movie versions.  I remember driving home from New Moon and listing everything the producers changed or left out with a friend.  It gave us something to talk about, sure, but it also ruined part of the movie experience.

The problem in this case is not always the film itself.  I realize that there are certain constraints to movies that are not present in books.  You can’t exactly have a huge backstory and still fit everything into two or three hours.  Sometimes the problem is me.  I’m just too picky.

I’ve gone through and listed some rules that constitute what I think makes an acceptable movie version:

  1. Don’t leave out any major characters.  In the film version of Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, at least one character was left out who is CRUCIAL TO THE PROGRESSION OF THE ENTIRE SERIES.  I mean, really?  How could they expect to make a sequel without Kronos?  Or Clarisse, for that matter?
  2. Make sure you have all the background information you need.  In some movies, the plot hangs on a character’s backstory.  If this is the case, you had better get that backstory in someplace.  Even a brief comment mentioned in passing is better than nothing.  Without it, there is no motivation.  I saw Captain America yesterday, and afterwards a person I went with complained that the villain had no clear motivations for taking over the world.  I’ve also heard that the Harry Potter movies are hard to understand if you’ve never read the books, probably for the same reason.
  3. Never sacrifice plot for action.  The author put in plot points for a reason, and just adding more explosions or whatever is just dumb.  Think Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: the Burrow burns (which never actually happened), and we don’t get as much Dumbledore/Horcruxes time as I would have liked.
  4. Make it believable.  If the story calls for a werewolf-spaceman who fights galactic aliens the size of mountains that breathe fire and acid, the producers had better have the technology to make it work, and make it look real enough for audiences to buy it.  I’m not sure this really applies anymore, with this wonderful newfangled CGI technology and who knows what else, but I’m still putting this in as a rule.
  5. Think very, very, very carefully before changing anything that’s remotely important to the story.  Again, with Percy Jackson, they changed a whole lot.  They changed so much the movie was almost unrecognizable.  Because of this, I’m not sure they could ever pull off a sequel (see rule #1).  It could have happened with Harry Potter, too, but luckily they had J.K. Rowling on board to make sure they didn’t leave anything out that would be important in the books yet to come.
  6. Consult the author.  This sort of goes in hand with number five, but it branches out into so much more.  Again, Percy Jackson had this problem, and so did Eragon.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think the authors had anything to do with the movie.  As a result, the films were terribly off-course in the eyes of purists like myself.
  7. If you decide to ignore all the other rules and just rearrange the story as you please, you had darn well make it a spectacular film.  I know I’ve been hitting Percy Jackson hard today, but I actually enjoyed the movie.  It was good if you don’t associate it with the book at all (*cough* Annabeth is BLOND *cough*).  The same with Harry Potter.  Those, I can forgive a bit more, because if J.K. Rowling says changes are okay, who am I to disagree?  And anyway, they are amazing movies.

Well, those are all the rules I can think of at the moment.  Does anyone else have any rules to watch by?  I would love to hear your opinions!

Happy reading!