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  • Lets say you think of an amazing three act story

  • that you want to create.

  • "I think I just"

  • "yeah"

  • "I just had an idea"

  • The first question you have to ask yourself is

  • What do you make?

  • Should your story be written as a movie or a novel?

  • It's a simple question, but the answer gets complicated

  • because of how often stories get retold in different artforms

  • The majority of highest grossing and most critically acclaimed movies

  • were adapted from novels and many unforgettable stories became famous

  • both as a novel and as a film

  • but each of these stories is presented differently depending on the medium used

  • so what's the difference between telling a story through a film and through a novel

  • What can a novel convey well that a film may have trouble with?

  • When I was in high school, I read "How to Write a Movie in 21 Days."

  • The first chapter of the book provides an interesting thought experiment

  • to consider the differences between a novel and a screenplay.

  • The experiment asks you to think of a scene and write that scene both as a novel and as a movie.

  • Consider a scene where a robber breaks into a home to steal something.

  • In a novel, we may get the inner thoughts of the robber before the robbery.

  • The robber and his predicament get described to us through various literary devices.

  • no other option and with the shaking hand he lifted the hammer and smashed

  • the window shattering the glass in his expectations for a quiet life free of

  • Where the novel stands out is its ability to put us in the thoughts and perspective of a character so smoothly.

  • Of course, movies do the same thing.

  • Movies narrate, have voice-overs and even talk directly to the viewer

  • but the novel can transition from thought to action so seemlessly

  • to the point where the vast majority of some novels can take place completely within the mind of a character

  • and the story can remain gripping and moving.

  • In movies, action is more common than just thinking.

  • "Alright, you just need to calm down. We need to think for a second."

  • "We just need to think this out."

  • "Fuck thinking, we need to act."

  • It's rare for a movie to spend the whole time narrating because it would get boring

  • but novels are different.

  • Instead of showing a character, a novel completely inhabits the mind of a character in the world of the narrative.

  • Novels can tells us how a person is feeling, tell us what something looks like, or what something tastes like

  • in a way a movie has trouble with.

  • "Catcher in the Rye" wouldn't work very well as a movie because movies are best at showing action and movement.

  • The vast majority of "Catcher in the Rye" takes place inside the mind of Holden, and little action occurs as Holden ponders.

  • So when a scene consists of nothing but Holden sitting on a train thinking,

  • the novel is the best method for bringing Holden's thoughts and character to life

  • While there are definitely good movies that showcase a character's thoughts,

  • novels do it better.

  • In the adaptation of "The Hunger Games" from the novel to the big screen, the writers had to do away with a lot of what was going on inside Katniss's head

  • because it didn't transition well to screen.

  • In "The Hunger Games," Katniss has to fake a romance with Peeta to win affection from the viewers

  • and in the first two books, she constantly thinks about Gale back home and has an inner struggle about whether or not she likes Gale or Peeta

  • The movies almost entirely do away with this plotline in the earlier films because it's really awkward adding love triangle to a film that has no action associated with it.

  • Movies aren't good at thoughts. They're good at actions.

  • The "Great Gatsby" film adaptation has several differences with the novel and it capitalizes on what movies do better than books.

  • They show. To show Gatsby's anxiety towards seeing Daisy,

  • he orders a ridiculous amount of flowers for the house and hires dozens of servants to redecorate Nick's lawn.

  • The visuals show Gatsby's overpreparation and anxiety from seeing Daisy.

  • The scene of him waiting for Daisy has the ever-increasing volume of the time ticking in the background as we get closer and closer to the clock.

  • "I can't wait all day. I'm leaving"

  • Along with DiCaprio's performance all the elements of the scene--the editing, sound, visuals and acting--convey the sense of anxiety Gatsby has. The novel does it a little bit differently. The

  • novel has no flowers delivered and only one of Gatsby servants comes to mow the

  • lawn. Instead of representing nerves through big visuals we get told about

  • Gatsby's nerves through literary devices.

  • Both scenes are written very similarly with almost the same dialogue and action but

  • the subtle differences between the movie's visuals and the novel's

  • descriptions are how two different art forms convey the same mood. The novel

  • tells us about his nerves through description and the movie shows us his

  • nerves through editing, lighting, sound and acting. So what would a robbery look like

  • as a movie? To play to the strengths of film when it comes to conveying the

  • robber's hesitation and regret we would show rather than tell. Maybe we get a

  • close-up of his trembling hand or sweat on his brow. Maybe he'd be dressed in

  • everyday attire instead of the typical robber gear. The shots could be close ups

  • and point-of-view shots to place us into his perspective and empathize with him

  • and the shots could be edited very quickly to up the pace and anxiety of the scene.

  • These visuals are what would make the story powerful. For the novel, metaphors

  • tone, hyperbole and all the other countless literary techniques are the

  • key to telling a story and lighting, camera angle, actor placement and other

  • cinematic techniques are how movies show a story. Different techniques with

  • different strengths and weaknesses. Movies show. Novels tell. Many people on

  • the internet loathe movies that don't stay true to the novel's they are based on.

  • There are a lot of reasons for the changes from novel to screen like

  • fitting feature-length screen time and a desire to appeal to a larger audience

  • but I think one key difference some people miss is that movies can't always

  • replicate the mood of a novel because movies have to present the story with

  • different techniques. Perhaps "The Great Gatsby" wasn't a good adaptation because

  • it focused too heavily on the visuals of the story and not the emotion behind it.

  • Take this excerpt from the novel

  • That moment is recreated in the movie like this

  • "He seemed to be reaching towards something out there in the dark."

  • The movie doesn't come close to capturing the moment correctly. In the novel, Gatsby can

  • be seen trembling even from a distance with both arms stretched out. It's

  • obviously a very personal moment for Gatsby, where he looks extremely desperate

  • almost pathetic with such dramatic body posture. In the movie he just does this.

  • No trembling. Just one arm. Not embarrassing, not intimate. It's

  • completely casual and this is the whole point of the scene. It's supposed to be a

  • very uncomfortable moment to see Gatsby's desperate and weak side but the

  • movie recreates this moment totally wrong. The movie's visuals made Gatsby look so

  • cool and his life so dazzling that we miss how he's not just a cool rich guy

  • with a weakness for a girl. He's actually an extremely empty, hollow failure that's

  • anything from great. The movie's visuals along with the modern score made Gatsby's

  • character much less moving and pathetic like the novel did. So sometimes the movie

  • gets it wrong. There are many more examples where the movie does it write

  • and maybe even better. What better way to show the clamor of a foreign world than

  • to go from a world in black and white to a world in color? What better way to show

  • a narrator dominating the scene than by having him look straight at us and

  • introduce us to the world himself? What I'm saying is that for every poor

  • adaptation there are dozens of examples proving otherwise. Many stories work very

  • well on screen and off so I don't think movie adaptations of a book are cursed

  • to be worse than the book. I just think that sometimes the filmmaker doesn't

  • bring the emotion of the book onto the screen properly. So the next time you

  • read a book or watch a movie

  • ask yourself does it show or tell?

  • "I know kung-fu."

Lets say you think of an amazing three act story

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電影與小說。 是什麼讓他們不同? (Film vs. Novel: What Makes Them Different?)

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    Pedroli Li 發佈於 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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