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Celia Cyanide
01-30-2012, 02:04 AM
Not a "which is better" thread, don't worry!

I was just wondering what people thought about familiarizing yourself with genres through both. If you have seen lots and lots of horror movies, would that prepare you to write a horror novel? Or vice versa?

Does my question make sense?

randi.lee
01-30-2012, 02:07 AM
Makes perfect sense. This happens to me with books more movies. If I read a lot of Roth I tend to focus on metaphors, too much Poe induces me to use a darker tone with more superfluous language.

I do have to admit that Indy Jones films fuel the action/adventure I am writing.

kuwisdelu
01-30-2012, 02:15 AM
I suppose it depends how genre-y you want to get. I'm mostly familiar with other genres through visual media rather than books, but I think it really depends on the genre and what examples you're reading/watching.

I don't really read horror, I think I'd be comfortable writing a (literary) horror novel, but I also recognize that most modern "horror" films out there probably aren't very reflective of the genre in literature (seeing as they're mostly gorn rather than true horror).

But then, I come at everything from a literary bent, so though I may be comfortable writing in other genres from mostly visual media exposure, I also recognize what I'd end up with would probably never be straight-up genre anyway.

gothicangel
01-30-2012, 02:25 AM
I suppose, I never thought of it that way.

Since starting to write my Roman historicals I try pretty much anything set in Ancient Rome. I find I tend to prefer the classic movies [Quo Vardis, The Robe, Cleopatra, Ben Hur, I, Claudius.] I do find I dislike the majority of modern stuff set in the period. I didn't like Centurion, Gladiator or Rome. I find myself getting more angry at the inaccuracies in the movies than anything else.

I do love Manda Scott and Ben Kane's books, because they really invoke the culture of Ancient Rome.

Movies are useful, but not a substitute for novels.

mirandashell
01-30-2012, 02:28 AM
I write MTS and find novels much more of an influence than visual media because the genre conventions are very different, imo

Rhoda Nightingale
01-30-2012, 02:34 AM
Firstly, you rule for bringing this up because I'm getting ready to do a blog "series" on this very thing--my favorite movies and the books that inspired them.

Also, I read, watch, and write more horror than anything else, so I feel you there too.

Having said that, horror novels will prepare you a lot better for writing horror than movies will. They're always much more detailed and personal--no monster on a screen is scarier than the one you imagine, and the feeling is what you want if you're writing horror.

Plenty of fantastic horror movies have been based on novels--The Ring, Let the Right One In, The Shining, etc. I'd check out the books and see how they did things.

Cyia
01-30-2012, 02:43 AM
I think it gives you a good sense of pacing, if nothing else. A two-hour movie is usually around 110-120 pages of script, and that's easily a 300 page novelization.

virtue_summer
01-30-2012, 02:56 AM
Not a "which is better" thread, don't worry!

I was just wondering what people thought about familiarizing yourself with genres through both. If you have seen lots and lots of horror movies, would that prepare you to write a horror novel? Or vice versa?

Does my question make sense?
No. The genres are expressed in very different ways and what trends on screen is not the same as what you see on the page. I love to curl up with a good horror novel or short story. I rarely enjoy horror movies. Conversely I love to watch romantic movies, particularly romantic comedies, but rarely read romance novels. If the genres were the same then I would be a horror fan and a romance fan on screen or on the page, but the different expressions lead me to be a fan of different genres in different mediums. Of course it's also possible that I'm just weird.

willietheshakes
01-30-2012, 06:30 AM
I'm not sure.
I will say, though, that a viewing of Krzysztof Kieślowski's The Decalogue in about 2001 has shaped everything I've written since.

Celia Cyanide
01-30-2012, 06:44 AM
No. The genres are expressed in very different ways and what trends on screen is not the same as what you see on the page. I love to curl up with a good horror novel or short story. I rarely enjoy horror movies.

That's funny, because I love horror movies, but I rarely enjoy horror novels.

Kitty Pryde
01-30-2012, 06:51 AM
For SF/F novels, I would say noooooooooooooooooo. I find that most movies in the last 20 years are pretty disappointing--they don't do much spectacular with speculative ideas and they don't really excite me. At this point, blowing shit up and fancy CGI do not a great movie make. When aspiring writers attempt SF or F after watching lots of movies and anime and not reading any SF/F, it seems that the result is usually dreadful.

SF&F novels are all about ideas, and SF&F movies are all about translating those ideas into a dirt-smudged muscular white guy with a square jaw running away from an explosion in slow motion.

Rhoda Nightingale
01-30-2012, 07:22 AM
^Yeah, that. Seems that in cinematic terms, "science fiction" and even "horror" in some cases are just high budget action movies in a different outfit.

Celia: I'm really curious now, as a lover of horror in all mediums--what are some movies that you really enjoyed? And what are some novels in the same genre that you didn't?

ETA: Not that I dislike action movies, mind you. Even really trashy, campy ones. But it's definitely not the same.

Celia Cyanide
01-30-2012, 07:33 AM
Celia: I'm really curious now, as a lover of horror in all mediums--what are some movies that you really enjoyed? And what are some novels in the same genre that you didn't?

Oh, I love just about any horror movie, and I have enjoyed several books that horror movies were based on. I liked Ring by Suzuki Koji, and I like some of Stephen King's work.

But I have read Patricia Wallace, and it wasn't scary just cheesy, and Flowers In The Attic is just effing horrible.

blacbird
01-30-2012, 07:39 AM
For SF/F novels, I would say noooooooooooooooooo. I find that most movies in the last 20 years are pretty disappointing--they don't do much spectacular with speculative ideas and they don't really excite me.

SF&F novels are all about ideas, and SF&F movies are all about translating those ideas into a dirt-smudged muscular white guy with a square jaw running away from an explosion in slow motion.

This, exactly. Moviemakers have become infatuated with special effects, greatly to the detriment of storytelling. The worst sinner in this camp is George Lucas (witness the horror of the second trilogy of Star Wars movies, compared to the first three). For all those who loved the LOTR movies, I'll also nominate Peter JAckson. I "enjoyed" them, but am not tempted to re-view any but the first. The second and third are all about massive "battles" involving CG, and just . . . get . . . really . . . boring after a minute or two.

This is, of course, the reason so few movies based on Philip K. Dick novels have been made. Dick is the apex of modern SF writing, never superseded. But his stories are idea stories, generally lacking in the kinds of explosion/flashy lights/alien monsters shtick so preferred these days by Hollywood.

Nobody's ever made a satisfactory motion picture version of H.G. Wells's Time Machine or War of the Worlds or The Island of Dr. Moreau, three of the absolute masterpieces of SF writing in world history. Back in the 1930s a very fine version of another of his classics, The Invisible Man, was produced, and every connoisseur of fine movies should watch it. Later attempts to film this have been totally lame.

One of the finest SF novels ever written, in my opinion, is Childhood's End, by Arthur C. Clarke. It cries out for a really good motion picture adaptation, but I fear for the result. Ditto The Green Odyssey. by Philip José Farmer, The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula LeGuin, or The Stars My Destination, by Alfred Bester.

caw

kuwisdelu
01-30-2012, 08:01 AM
For all this "idea" talk, what tends to draw me into genre fiction — be it movies or novels — is the exact same thing as literary fiction: characters and execution. Ideas are a dime a dozen.

And now that I'm reconsidering it, I'm not sure popular movies better reflect their genres any more than popular prose. I mean, does anyone really consider Twilight to be representative of vampire fiction for its popularity in both media?

Rhoda Nightingale
01-30-2012, 11:35 AM
This is, of course, the reason so few movies based on Philip K. Dick novels have been made.…
Begging your pardon, but "few?"

Minority Report
Screamers
Blade Runner
Total Recall
The Adjustment Bureau

Whether they're good adaptations or not is another thing, obviously, but Dick is well represented in the film world.

@Celia: The Ring is one of my all-time favorites, and that's a great example,because the book goes into a lot more detail about Sadako's life before she turned all evil. All the relationships between the characters are given more depth in the novel, whereas the movie(s) bring the focus to possibly the most iconic and terrifying example of breaking the fourth wall that's ever been seen.

@kuwi, re Twilight: Hells no. It's a terrific example of a YA paranormal romance, but not of vampire fiction. I reckon fans of both genres understand that though.

seun
01-30-2012, 04:04 PM
If you have seen lots and lots of horror movies, would that prepare you to write a horror novel? Or vice versa?


It would help in terms of knowing about horror atmosphere but only if you're watching decent, intelligent horror films that don't rely simply on gore. But if you want to write horror, then the best thing to do is read it.



I don't really read horror, I think I'd be comfortable writing a (literary) horror novel, but I also recognize that most modern "horror" films out there probably aren't very reflective of the genre in literature (seeing as they're mostly gorn rather than true horror).


The best horror film I saw last year was this (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1646973/). No gorn at all.


That's funny, because I love horror movies, but I rarely enjoy horror novels.

*seun points Celia in the direction of his sig in a shameless attempt at self-pimping* :D

crunchyblanket
01-30-2012, 04:30 PM
I tend to love horror novels, but not so much horror films. I guess I like being able to imagine the scary stuff much more than actually seeing it (some films are quite good in this regard, though)

JimmyB27
01-30-2012, 04:48 PM
Not a "which is better" thread, don't worry!

I was just wondering what people thought about familiarizing yourself with genres through both. If you have seen lots and lots of horror movies, would that prepare you to write a horror novel? Or vice versa?

Does my question make sense?
In On Writing, Stephen King describes having done pretty much exactly that. He seems to have done ok by it.

areteus
01-30-2012, 04:57 PM
Yeah, my impression was that a lot of movies had been made based on Phillip K Dick novels because (I suspect) either the copyright lapsed (which it shouldn't have as its been less than 75 years since he died...) or someone in his family sold a load of the rights (and possibly didn't make as much money as they could have done...). The movies mentioned above are all based on Dick novels...

However, afficinadoes of his writing tend in my experience to look at these films and say that they are only loosely based on his novels. As far as I know, the only one which might be considered a relatively 'true' adaptation of a Dick novel is the Keanu Reeves version of 'A Scanner Darkly' because it follows the novel closely in plot (instead of taking a core concept like memory implants or predictive justice or synthetic humans and weaving a loosely related but not very close plot to the original).

Films and novels are different media altogether. They have different rules about technical stuff like PoV and they work better with different concepts. For example, film is better for action in general (I am reminded of Eddie Izzard's comments about writing car chases compared to watching one on film...) whereas novels work better for mysteries and inner conflict.

I remember watching the Sixth Sense and thinking 'this is not a film, it's a short story in visual form' because it would work really well as a short story. Other films would not make good written stories and some stories would never work as films because there is are fundamental differences in how they interpret certain concepts.

CGI and 3D at the moment are spoiling creativity in film because it is becoming more about the pretties than the story. I suspect that this will change in time as film makers have to do bigger and better films and there is not new technology to sell them. At the moment, you can make a film 3D and no matter how bad it is in terms of plot or dialogue it will likely make some money*. As the audiences get bored of 3D, they will demand more engaging plots and the film makers will have to think up more and more interesting ways to use what technology they have.

*Ok, an exaggeration there as I am aware that even 3D cannot save some tripe... but the point is sound, 3D is currently a gimmick and it is not the film they are selling but the 3D gimmick.

Manuel Royal
01-30-2012, 06:08 PM
Begging your pardon, but "few?"

Minority Report
Screamers
Blade Runner
Total Recall
The Adjustment Bureau

Whether they're good adaptations or not is another thing, obviously, but Dick is well represented in the film world.And:

Paycheck
Next
Imposter

(Maybe someday they'll do The Man in the High Castle.)

Isaac Asimov, in an article defending science fiction's place in literature, argued that, even if the prose style doesn't display the literary artistry of more famous works (which it sometimes does), science fiction stories make up for it with, as he put it, Background. Writers create worlds that don't exist, make them real to the reader, and that's what sticks with people.

The better science fiction movies are often like that. Like Blade Runner; there's actually not very much dialogue, and we're given very little solid information. (It's hard to make the story make solid sense logically.) But the background is fantastic; through art direction, sets and cinematography, we're given a convincing visual world that stays with us. I think examining that approach at least provides food for thought in terms of what you concentrate effort (and words) on in writing science fiction. (Doesn't mean you should write a book like a movie, but it does illustrate the different levels on which a story can appeal and be memorable.)

Or consider a well-done intricate mystery/thriller movie. It has to convey complex information, but do it so it seems to come naturally out of the situations and dialogue. Nobody wants to stop a thriller for a half-hour expository lecture. I'm trying to get started on a mystery novel, and will try to have the essential information come out in dialogue and material seen by the protagonist; I'll have introspection, but not three-page internal monologues sorting it out.

Good thread, Celia.

crunchyblanket
01-30-2012, 06:42 PM
The better science fiction movies are often like that. Like Blade Runner; there's actually not very much dialogue, and we're given very little solid information. (It's hard to make the story make solid sense logically.)


Yes, that's true. Makes me think of Sunshine, one of my favourite films. There is science behind it, and backstory, and everything else but what sticks with you is the visual impact.

I often wonder why there aren't more adaptations of William Gibson's work (Johnny Mnemonic doesn't count) 'Virtual Light' in particular strikes me as a book that would work brilliantly on screen, what with the strange environments.

Ctairo
01-30-2012, 09:35 PM
Tossing my vote behind both - particularly if you read the novel first, then watch the adaptation. IMHO, it's an excellent way to see what filmmakers prioritize (sometimes to the detriment of the the project). If you haven't done it, I'd also suggest watching films and television to practice rendering the visual with words.

Drachen Jager
01-30-2012, 10:01 PM
I find I often plot out actions as though I were directing a movie. Since I've started doing that it really bothers me when I read authors who just skim over things like sword fights, or chases. I want to know the blow-by-blow so that's what I give.

Batman's fights don't get covered up by >POW< >BIFF< >KABLAMMIE< anymore for a reason (although of course a part of that was the comedic nature of the early Batman show). I think this is an evolution in film making over time that should translate into books as well.

But then again, I worked in film for ten years, so I'm probably biased.