Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Best Story Structure

One of my favorite teachers advised to make character development the structure instead of following structure formulas. By page blah blah blah have an explosion.

The class was for screen adaptation, but the advice applies to any story. =) I improved the beginning of a story by working on the characters' journeys and goals.

Another screenwriting teacher did not believe in writer's block. She suggested to check if you strayed from the story's path at one point. Perhaps you put in a scene for its own purpose instead of the whole story's purpose. Sometimes you have to let go moments or lines. Save the draft though because you could try using that scene in another story.

Screenwriter Nicholas Meyer wanted to express his dislike of punk rock music through the time-traveling hero in Time After Time. Meyer had to omit the scene, but he rewrote it in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. I found the well-known scene, but the song was changed:

Friday, May 25, 2012

I'm with the Mockingjay

I heard some readers felt emotionally-drained from Mockingjay, the 3rd book of The Hunger Games. I enjoyed it because it had concepts similar to Nineteen Eighty-Four. =) Catching Fire was the emotionally-draining book for me. I felt that Katniss was weighed down by her worries.

There's some spoilers in this post even though I indirectly talk about them.

In the drawing, I wrote vague terms for what I thought were Katniss' main worries in each book before the games. I added trees because nature is her relief. With each book, she is more cut off from it. Dystopic societies usually cut people off from nature or see it as too wild.

Also this series shows nature used as and altered into a weapon. However, nature continues to live as if independent from the story's events. Man suffers and struggles to survive because of man.

I have a drawing tablet now.
I'll try quick sketches to illustrate points.
 In The Hunger Games, Katniss was a survivor but she was numb. Her main focus and devotion was her family's survival.

At this point, she doesn't know that other districts suffer just as bad or worse. Her own district has had worse days, which the adults recall.

In Catching Fire, she should no longer have to worry about her family, but Snow proves that fact wrong and adds more worries to her list. Katniss fears even her own actions and the interpretations of her actions because of consequences.

For fans of the love story/love drama, the second book seems to be their favorite.

I feel that Katniss had the most spirit in Mockingjay. She rebelled at almost every moment. She wants to be more informed on situations. She acts more than fearing on acting. Because of this strong spirit, I was not shocked at her move during the peace ceremony.

I had hoped for that move because the leaders fit George Orwell's attitude in  Nineteen Eighty-Four  that all parties are the same. The people still had to trust a leader blindly. Some people still feared for their lives. Daily life was controlled by the leader. The rebel society still lacked humanity. In the final conference, Katniss states that things are still the same.

I could not think of a right replacement for Snow, but when author Suzanne Collins showed the final leader, I agreed strongly with the choice. That person had showed interest in the people and had suffered from the Capitol.

Mockingjay is perfect...if you expect a dystopia. The first book had the dystopic setup, but was told as an adventure thriller. The second book is the transition to dystopic. Mockingjay is the dystopia of the series. I felt that Collins held back themes and attitudes in the other books. Mockingjay explains the society such as the careers in the games. This book may be my favorite of the three because of these reasons. The first book is still a great example to me of constant conflicts and the audience's influence.

I say perfect, but the book is not flawless.

The reader may get confused when the pace is too fast for storytelling near the end, but you are put in Katniss' position. You feel the rushed moment as she does.

The ending is short and quick, but I am fine with that. Although I read the book over a week instead of a few days like some readers, I needed the story to end already. You feel burnt up by the events and need relief from the tension. I recommend stopping once in a while because of the numerous events and their impact.

If you have not read  Nineteen Eighty-Four, then I recommend doing so including the prologue or section about George Orwell. I was just told that the districts and Capitol in The Hunger Games are similar to Brave New World. I bought a copy, but I'm taking a break again from dystopias.