Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Reading, again...

I decided to read "The Count of Monte Cristo" a couple weeks back, and have chugged through it to the point where I'm able to overlook the archaic style of writing and not want to put the book down. Alexandre Dumas was obviously paid by the word, like Dickens, because he uses a LOT of them. Man, I thought Wilkie Collins was verbose? He's like Hemingway at his most minimalist in comparison to Dumas.

BUT...I'm caught up in Edmond Dantes' situation and want to know how it turns out. I have an idea, but I'm realizing both the 1934 and 2001 versions of the story were very freely I have a feeling surprises are still to come.

I'm at the point where Dantes and the Abbe have connected by tunnel and are considering the amazing tools the Abbe's made, on his pens from bits of fish bone, and a clock that uses the barest of light coming through a tiny window to tell him if it's morning or night, and the making of papyrus scrolls from torn up sheets and shirts, upon which to write in ink built from mixing soot and his weekly ration of wine.

The grammar and attitudes may be completely old-fashioned but it doesn't matter. It's the characters who count. I've always felt that way about my scripts...which is partly why I let the people in them run the story. I don't care how great your structure and dialogue are in a screenplay or novel, the characters are all that honestly matters. If you don't care about them, you won't care about perfect grammar or eloquence in you use of words.

Guess I'll have to re-evaluate my attitude towards movies like Titanic. I hated the dialogue and what James Cameron did to hype a major tragedy into the worst kind of melodrama. I am still deeply offended by some of the things he pulled in reworking the story. That said, Leonardo DeCaprio and Kate Winslet inhabited characters you cared about, which helped personalize the tragedy far more than the rather cold-blooded A Night To Remember from 1958, and heightened the horror of what happened far more than 1953's Titanic.

Unfortunately, what Hollywood looks for, these days, is structure and concept. All else is secondary or they figure it can be fixed with the right casting and rewriting. I can't tell you how many times I've been told if I'd change this character or focus on that one, I could sell some of my work. An idea that ignores how I did do that, a few times...and my work still didn't get produced.

Of course, it could just be that I'm crappy at writing scripts...but I don't think so.

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