Monday, May 2, 2011

Progress Report: 5/2/2011

Hi everyone. Still writing, still trying to get a handle on all my new responsibilities at work, and this month an unwelcome visit from some microscopic friends has helped make things even more interesting. The cold season has gotten an extension, it seems. So without much in the way of news to report, here's something I've been thinking about as a writing matter.

We're three installments into HBO's Game of Thrones series now. I'm enjoying it, but it does make me wonder a couple of things.

1) How is it for someone who hasn't read the books?

I often wonder this about these kinds of adaptations. The Potter movies, for instance, seem like they would lose movie-only fans on some pretty significant plot points. For Thrones, I wonder how hard it is to keep track of all the characters, 'cuz there are a hell of a lot of characters to get straight. Perhaps someone who hasn't read the books but who's watching can tell me. My hope is that it would inspire you to read the books.

2) What is it that a visual medium does better than print?

This is a question near to my heart, because I am grappling with it as I adapt Thunderstruck to its new novelized form. Certainly when you have visuals, you can choreograph certain kinds of scenes (action, especially) with more ease, but I think that a good writer shouldn't be hindered by that. It's fun to see a full artistic realization of a landscape, a castle, a suit of armor, yet I find that as often as not, even big-budget movies don't add a whole lot to what I've already imagined for a book I really love.

I'd say the biggest advantage that film has is actors. The subtlety of expression and inflection that a good actor can bring to a role are things that a writer simply has to hope the reader can fill in for themselves. Writers who try to spell out every detail of their character's facial tics, body language, and vocal emphasis tend to bog down their stories. An actor can, with a very minor change of expression, convey a whole world of information. To an extent, a drawing can do that as well.

(For Game of Thrones, I'm thinking particularly of the actor who plays Jaime Lannister. I'm really enjoying his performance.)

Now, a writer has all sorts of other tools and advantages that a visual medium lacks. It's a lot easier to fill in backstory and track the internal thoughts of a character in writing, and these are things that I definitely feel are missed in the Game of Thrones show. Still, it's nice to see good acting for characters I know and love (or love to hate). It adds a new dimension.

The other thing that films have as an advantage is the soundtrack. There's not much answer to that as a writer, unless you want to say "play this CD while you're reading."


Jeremy said...

How is Peter Dinklage? We don't have access to the show, but I'll probably rent it when it comes out.

Grayson Towler said...

He's very good. I think his accent is a bit unsteady, but his performance is one of the high points of the show. Tyrion gives you good raw material.

Eternal said...

I'm afraid I can't help you with the first question since I've read the books a few years ago.

But here's my take on the second question: I really enjoy the landscapes, castles and other visuals in the series. Even when they're not very different from what I imagined simply seeing them in the kind of quality used in series adds a lot to the experience.

Also I experience the characters quite differently, the core of the characters might be the same, but seeing them rather than reading from someones point of view makes a world of difference. I think that reading from the point of view of a character provides a much more "personal" experience than watching the corresponding scenes.

The books had a number of chapters which I found very slow since I disliked the PoW character. I'm very interested how those turns out in the series.