Fiction Frenzy

Whenever I'm deep in rewrites, I'm unable to read fiction and actually enjoy it. It's hard to turn off that picking-it-apart section of my mind.

Lately I'm catching up on some novels I've been wanting to read, like The Dust of 100 Dogs by A.S. King, City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau, The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jaqueline Kelly, and Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld.

Coincidentally, Netflix sent us the disc of the 2009 movie version of City of Ember over the weekend. Jeanne DuPrau was also at the SCBWI Regional conference a few weeks ago and spoke about her development of the Ember books, particularly what she had decided to cut and what she kept from earlier drafts.

So it was interesting to see what the film did with the books, but some of the changes the studio/scriptwriters made puzzled me (spoilers ahead). DuPrau does mention insects since one of the characters is fascinated by them, but for the movie all the creatures were super-sized. There's even a voracious, giant mole---cool special effects, but it seemed a cheap way to add tension. And the characters' onscreen passage through watery tunnels looked like a ride at Universal Studios, which it could be for all I know.

Looking back at the pages of the story, the tension building is quieter than a giant mole chasing you, but the stakes for the characters are consistently raised throughout. It kept me interested, and as a writer I could recognize the craft behind it. So in my view, it was successful the way it was.

I guess maybe I need to learn to turn off the picking-it-apart section of my brain for movies, too!


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