Redux: The Book Was Better


This is an encore presentation of a previous post by author David Antrobus, from the Franklin Mint’s David Antrobus collection.editor’s note.

“I just saw the movie, wasn’t a patch on the book.”

If I’d stuffed my face with a deep-fried Mars bar every time I heard this sentiment, I’d probably lose a weigh-in with an elephant seal, have a mouthful of teeth with the average consistency of a sea sponge, and skin the overall texture of pepperoni by now. I’ll bet every last one of us has said something similar, though. Which makes every last one of us a bit weird, really. Not quite stupid, but getting there, you know?

Let me explain my thinking. (I find I have to do that a lot, which says nothing good about me whatsoever.)

It’s actually quite simple. A book is a book. A movie is a movie. And Popeye is what he is… an extremely odd-shaped sailor with a fetish for canned green vegetables.

Seriously, though, “the book was better” has become one of those irksome knee-jerk phrases that are stand-ins for something else entirely. See: “it’s political correctness gone mad!” which actually means “damn, the world doesn’t condone my bigotry any more, so I’ll just have this here tantrum instead”. Or: “I knew them before they were famous” which translates as “I am an unctuous hipster and will drip oily, corrosive scorn on, you know, like, everyone not in the inner circle of me, dude.” Continue reading “Redux: The Book Was Better”

A VOICE IN THE WILDERNESS

Author Lin Robinson

As I mentioned last time, I have found useful writing tips to be few and far between. This is, to me, one of the most powerful things you can use in creating fiction, but it’s subtle and has no real nuts/bolts application. But just being aware of it helps you when nothing else does. The term is “narrative voice”.

I first heard it in school from Jack Cady, a very talented short story writer who taught writing and science fiction in the Engineering department. Oddly, two weeks later I was sitting in a bar just off campus with Ken Kesey, and he said exactly the same thing. So I took it to heart.

It’s a vague and slippery concept as writing tips go, closer to psychology or spirituality than to medicine or exercise. But you should be aware of it: just keep that awareness a little unfocused. Narrative voice is, in Cady’s words, the way your story wants to tell itself. It’s way more than a point of view or style or dialect or mode or any of that, though all of those are elements in it. You pick up a children’s book about a kid looking for a lost friend and read it, it’s telling itself in a certain way that fits the story. Then you pick up a noir detective story about a guy looking for a lost friend and it tells itself in a very different way. Continue reading “A VOICE IN THE WILDERNESS”

The Book Was Better

“I just saw the movie, wasn’t a patch on the book.”

If I’d stuffed my face with a deep-fried Mars bar every time I heard this sentiment, I’d probably lose a weigh-in with an elephant seal, have a mouthful of teeth with the average consistency of a sea sponge, and skin the overall texture of pepperoni by now. I’ll bet every last one of us has said something similar, though. Which makes every last one of us a bit weird, really. Not quite stupid, but getting there, you know?

Let me explain my thinking. (I find I have to do that a lot, which says nothing good about me whatsoever.)

It’s actually quite simple. A book is a book. A movie is a movie. And Popeye is what he is… an extremely odd-shaped sailor with a fetish for canned green vegetables.

Seriously, though, “the book was better” has become one of those irksome knee-jerk phrases that are stand-ins for something else entirely. See: “it’s political correctness gone mad!” which actually means “damn, the world doesn’t condone my bigotry any more, so I’ll just have this here tantrum instead”. Or: “I knew them before they were famous” which translates as “I am an unctuous hipster and will drip oily, corrosive scorn on, you know, like, everyone not in the inner circle of me, dude.” Continue reading “The Book Was Better”

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