1. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    Not Meant to Be Literature?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Killer300, Jan 10, 2012.

    Are their stories that just can't be told in a literature form, and need a different medium to work? We hear of failed adaptions of books to movie form because they're different mediums, so does the reverse happen? If so, are their signs that it wouldn't work in such a form?

    I ask this because I may have a plot which doesn't work in literature form.
     
  2. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I think a novel is probably the most flexible form of storytelling in existence. I think you can tell ANY story in novel form (even if the novel takes an experimental form). Everything else is limited, to some extent or other, by technology. Movies are limited by length - you pretty much can't expect someone to stay in their seats for four hours. Also, movies show external events; it's hard to put in philosophical asides, stream-of-consciousness, etc., unless you include some kind of cheesy voiceover narration. And movies are expensive to make and release. Sci-fi and fantasy movies tend to be EXTREMELY expensive.

    But what else is there? Live theater? Opera? Television mini-series (which suffer from the same problems as movies, though the length issue goes away)? Everything else is expensive and limited. A novel, even a novel dealing with galactic-scale sci-fi concepts, costs pretty much the same as a novel about a small-town romantic relationship between two people. It takes the same time to write, and one person with one word-processor. Minimal cost, but maximum imagination.

    Can you enlighten me as to how a plot cannot fit into the form of literature?
     
  3. Metus
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    Metus Senior Member

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    Books have their strengths and weaknesses. The reason I prefer writing to, say, programming games (which I actually can do) is because you can't get inside a character's head in any other medium like you can in writing. Also, any graphics I could program would be abysmal. :)

    Another big advantage of a book is the length factor. Movies are annoying to continually start and stop over a course of several days, and if anyone else lives with you and wants to use the T.V, you'll be out of luck. A book, you can pick up and read any time, and no one's going to tell you to turn the volume down.

    A weakness of books is their inability to provide stunning visuals of the same scale as blockbuster movies such as Avatar, or Star Wars. (I know, Star Wars is old now, but it was big back in the day.)
     
  4. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    It's hard to answer without knowing why you think your plot is unwriteable. There are certainly advantages and disadvantages to different media, and in each there are works that demonstrate why they could not possibly exist in any other form, but it rarely has anything to do with plot.
     
  5. erik martin
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    erik martin Contributing Member

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    I have a hard time imagining any plot that can't be rendered as a book. But that doesn't mean every story is best told by the written word. I think an argument could be made that the spoken word creates a different rendition of a story, as the storyteller's performance influences one's perception. Once upon a time, storytellers were more common. But today, how many people sit down and watch and listen to someone tell a story? Others might argue that film tells some stories better than a book might. If the director's vision is excellent and the actors and writers superior then they might create a movie that is for most people more enjoyable to watch than read a book relating the same story.
     
  6. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have a plot that I've wanted to write since February last year... But I can't find any good way to write it as a novel. Sure, any story CAN be written as a novel, but that doesn't mean they should. This particular plot is something that needs to be written as a film, for me. There's just parts of it that, as a novel, would be tacky. Novels, for me, don't really accurately portray something happening very suddenly. Nothing I read ever really surprises me because I see the words.
    In a film, something can come out of nowhere and scare the shit out of you. I like that. There's only a few writers that I've come across that can do that well.

    I think it's a terrible argument that you can't expect someone to sit down and watch a movie for four hours, too. Obviously, you've never met me or anyone else who owns any good TV series. I watched all of Prison Break (that's four seasons, at 21 episodes each (about 84 hours, I think)) in three days. I really only stopped so I could sleep, or I paused it to go make food.
    I watched the first five seasons of a kiwi show called Outrageous Fortune in less than a week. That's 15 to 20 episodes per season.

    Sure, movies are different because they don't have breaks in between things, but think of plays. Plays and operas and such go for several hours. They've got intermissions. I've got no doubt that at some point in the future, films will be long enough to warrant intermissions. I have absolutely no doubt about that happening. So yeah, saying that people won't sit still for that long is a terrible argument, especially considering that the Collector's Edition of Avatar (sure, it's on DVD, the Collector's Cut wasn't shown in theaters) runs at 3 and a half hours in length. That's not far off four hours. It even comes on two separate discs, so it has its own intermission if you want it.
     
  7. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, yes, but you did this at home, didn't you? When was the last time you spent three days in a movie theater seat, surrounded by possibly-annoying fellow viewers, talking and belching and answering cell phone calls and bugging you to move so that they can get out to take a crap and then bugging you again to get back to their seats?

    When I mentioned a length restriction on movies, I was talking about theatrical releases. Home video is an entirely different matter. That's why I separated the idea of television miniseries from movies. And collectors' editions of movies like Avatar are intended for home video.
     
  8. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Double post - sorry.
     
  9. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    Even cinemas do movie marathons. Really, the only reason for a cinema to not play longer films and just have an intermission or something is because they'd make less money. The only reason for a director or scriptwriter to not direct/write a longer film is that the production costs go up some. That's not to mention the lack of real creativity in most films coming out at the moment. Sooner or later, though, novels with really good, long stories are going to start being adapted, and they're going to need longer and longer adaptations.
    I'll be disappointed if The Gunslinger gets adapted into a film and it's shorter than two and a half hours, for example. Some stories just shouldn't be compacted for the sake of film, and sooner or later producers are going to realise that.
     
  10. AmsterdamAssassin
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    AmsterdamAssassin Contributing Member

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    Well, people sat through the Lord of the Rings in the cinema too. Although the runtime of the DVD versions is quite a bit longer.

    I agree with longer stories suited better for TV series - I have DVD boxsets of various major TV series and I record episodes of series in advance so I know I have the whole series before I start watching.

    As to some stories being less suitable for novels than other media - if something is very visual, like for instance a movie like Inception, I can imagine that the visuals are stronger than the possible imagination of the reader. So, if the imagination of the reader would fall short of the visuals possible in visual media like film/tv, I can imagine that film/tv might be more suitable to the story. However, if the story focuses mainly on internal struggle of the mind, novels rule. And there are certain film adaptations of novels, like Perfume-the story of a murderer, that fall short of the novel, due to the material.
     
  11. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    I definitely agree with this. Voiceover thoughts are extremely tacky in a film, just like flashbacks in a novel are usually quite tacky.
    There are definitely elements better suited to different mediums. That's not to mention that a scene in a film which is particular suspenseful or beautiful can give you that feeling that your heart is tightening faster and with more ease than a novel can.
     
  12. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    I have the same problem. Sometimes I wonder if some of my story ideas are meant to be a videogame, a movie, or anything but a novel.

    But since I don't have time or money to invest in making a videogame or a movie out of my story ideas, writing them in a book is my only option.
     
  13. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    Well, it's the visual parts here, however this might work as a short story, not sure. Great thoughts guys.
     
  14. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Plus, with a novel, you can make your characters care about what is going on in their world.

    Actors in a movie or voice-actors in a videogame? Not so much. You'd have to hope they care enough about the characters to protray them properly.
     
  15. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    Ah, but comic books don't quite suffer from that, although to be fair perhaps there's a reason they're called graphic novels.:p
     
  16. spklvr
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    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd say sit-coms maybe. At least I have never been able to make them work. The reason is that they tend to lack an overall plot, which I think is needed in a (good) book. I have tried to make this work myself, because I have an absolutely fantastic idea for a sit-com, and I tried to write it in novel form, but it couldn't be done.
     
  17. Sisu
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    Sisu New Member

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    There seems to be well established conventions in all narrative art forms. Of these art forms, I believe literature is the most open to experimentation. Some may argue (and many do) that western literature has fallen victim to a aesthetic dogma and linear paradigms. Even the early intellect, Aristotle believed that elements of plot, theme, and purity were essential in the writing of literature. Also, considering that much of the western cannon of literature, even works that are today deemed "groundbreaking" share some basic elements. Many other works, including the abstract, dadaistic, alinear, and aleatory rebel against such standards. While it is an impossibly subjective topic, I believe that every story and emotion can be expressed through writing, even without a clear, linear plot or theme.
     
  18. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    Well, there's a difference between can and should. The strength of novels seems to be having length, and being able to have much deeper character interaction arguably, while with film it's being able to combine many different sensory experiences from visual to auditory to get an emotional response and being able to convey lots of information much faster than literature can. While both of these can tell the same story, that doesn't mean they should, as different stories need different parts of them emphasized.
     
  19. Rumwriter
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    Rumwriter Active Member

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  20. Rumwriter
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  21. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    I think some stories are best suited for movies because of how movies are pretty omniscient, and omniscient novels, IMO, are mostly boring, even close omni. Dune works better as a movie, the new version from Sci-fi channel, IMO, although I do love the novel.

    True Blood works better as a TV show for the same reason.

    Movies are great for creating suspense because you can just show the bomb in the car of which the character's are ignorant. It's much harder to pull that off in a novel.

    I love writing screenplays more than I love writing novels, so I might be biased.
     

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