Tuesday, August 18, 2015

When Stephen King and Scott Westerfeld mingle in my mind

I have several TBR lists. One for fiction, one for nonfiction, and another specifically for books about writing and the writing industry. The result is that at any given moment, I am in the middle of at least three books. The result is often like walking through a chemistry lab and choosing random chemicals to mix together. You never know what will happen.

Currently, I am rereading On Writing by Stephen King. At the same time, I read Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld. These two had some interesting interactions in my mind.

King talks about the level of detail he likes to use in descriptions of character and setting. He is a bit of a minimalist, giving the reader a few small pieces and letting them fill in the rest. The result is that any character in a Stephen King novel isn’t really one that King created. The character is really created by the interaction of his chosen details and how the reader interprets and fills in the rest of the picture.

This got me thinking about movies. I don’t tend to like the movie versions of books I love. Partly because the story changes. But I think my real issue is that there is no interaction. In a movie, the visuals are determined for me. The director, actors, and other crew involved present their interpretation of the characters and setting to me. As a viewer, you are not involved in the creative process.

This is where Scott Westerfeld comes into play.

In Afterworlds, Westerfeld brings up what he calls the Anjelina Jolie paradox. Here’s the premise: When Anjelina Jolie is cast in a movie, that means that the world the movie occurs in is one in which Anjelina Jolie does not exist. Otherwise, people would comment on how much the character looks like Anjelina Jolie.

What follows from that is the movie version of a book actually occurs in a different world than the book did!

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