Do you know what I’m doing at this very moment as I (also) write this post? I’m sitting in front of our new, big television, and I’m watching a CHICK FLICK on it. This has happened exactly zero times since we bought it. It usually has sports on it or yet another episode of Dirty Jobs. I bask in its glow, but I’ve never yet fully taken it over like this. You can’t imagine all the stars that have to align in order to make this happen – me in charge of the living room entertainment center. For a whole movie.
On Saturday I saw a movie I had kind of low expectations for. Well, that’s not true. I had a very specific expectation: Jake would love it. After all, it had dragons. And then the weirdest thing happened. I loved it too. I could tell right away that I would, from the moment the narrator described his village with the self-deprecating admission that the pesky, sheep-stealing, house-burning, man-eating dragons were sort of a bother. And from that point I just settled in with my dorky 3D glasses and reveled in the art of movie-making.
I really kind of think movies are the best way to tell a story. Shhhhhh! Do not tell anyone in the book industry that I said that. But I admit it, I really like the way movie makers put color and costumes and entire worlds together for me that, frankly, far exceed my own imagination, especially if it’s a world I don’t know much about – like…Milwaukee.
So why am I writing books instead of screenplays? Because despite how much I love the imagination-comes-to-life that happens with stage and lighting and CGI, in the end I still want my dragon movie to develop a relationship between the big, bad Viking father and his dragon-befriending son. And although I loved Avatar’s amazing imagery, none of that actually helped me buy the love story, which seemed about as developed as the twitterpated scene in Bambi. In essence, though I love the special effects, I embrace a movie because of its story. And while telling a story through a movie takes hundreds of people and even more stars to align, writing a book – at first – really only requires me and the page.
Still, admit it: There’s at least one movie you liked better than its book, or a movie that never was a book at all and yet it’s one of your favorite stories. Right? It’s true for me. A story well-told on the page is one thing – it offers paragraphs and paragraphs of world-building and language to accompany the emotional journey. But a story well-told on screen? It’s a beautiful, beautiful thing.