On to one of the oldest forms of story—the written word. By far, the best gadgety purchase of 2009 for me was my Amazon Kindle. I convinced myself that I didn’t need one. I have an iPhone. There’s a Kindle app. I was good to go. After a week of my thumb feeling really tired from swiping pages every 8 seconds when reading on the little screen, I decided I might benefit from the 6-inch eInk wonder.
Convinced that I would read more if I had something electronic. I set out to read the first two books in the Twilight Saga before New Moon hit the silver screen. Well, I had the release date wrong, so I had to read the first book in paperback. The Kindle arrived after a brief shipping delay and I finished New Moon the weekend of the release—a week before Thanksgiving. Since then, I have read all four books in the Twilight series, Eragon, Eldest and Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief. So that’s vampires, dragons & greek gods all in 15 or so weeks in the equivalent of 4,459 pages in a hardcover book.
As you may have noticed—or maybe not—each of those books has been fairly popular and have been made as feature films. Some have faired better than others. Twilight was sort of like the book. New Moon was much better. Eragon was pretty far from the book and didn’t do well in the box office. The Lightning Thief was about 40% like the book but was a really entertaining movie. I’m now a big fan of reading the book first. Other than being frustrated by the changes in characters and plot, I feel like I understand character motivation much more. As I said in the previous post, I really do think that movies come short on character. Books give you even more than television. I understand that you only have two or three hours for a movie, but seriously, you can’t change the plot entirely or merge a love interest with a nemesis—both of which I’ve seen in these movies.
I haven’t been much of a reader until recently. About the only thing I read since high school was the Harry Potter series, which I loved. I didn’t even do much of the required reading in college. The benefit to the Kindle is that there is an iPhone app and I can read my books if I don’t have the Kindle with me. It’s about convenience. We live in an age where people rarely stop to read a story. They prefer other methods. Television and feature films prevail. While I love both, I think we’re loosing something. Stories are reduced to basic characters and basic plot. While TV does more to develop these, both fall short compared to a novel.
I understand all of this sounds blasphemous coming from someone schooled in film, but I want more than the surface story. I want to understand characters, get their motivation and have no question about why they do what they do. That’s what makes a good character. They seem like real people instead of a facsimile. Though the dictionary defines a fax as an “exact” copy, anyone who has used a fax machine lately—all three of you—knows that there’s no comparison.