Monday, April 7, 2014

The Free Bin: Movie Novelizations, Writing Dialogue, and Luxurious Silence



This week’s collection of articles that have captured my attention includes a few longer pieces. If you’re used to bite-sized web articles, it might take some arm twisting to get you to read them, but consider making some time (or sending them to your Kindle for reading later). They’re well worth it.

An assortment of movie novelizations, jammed together unevenly by me. 


  • “The Endangered Art of the Movie Novelization” is the topic of a Random House article that covers a lot of fascinating ground. Before you say “Good riddance,” take a look. There’s some great background on the history of novelizations (including the fact that the first popular one was King Kong). Frequent novelizer Alan Dean Foster weighs in on topics like being privy to script changes, and the fact that when a director decides to change the ending, a re-write on the novel has to happen in a flash.

  • TV Writer may be for those who write teleplays, but they often have advice that transcends the medium. A recent post on writing dialogue addresses some particular annoyances, such as characters who say each other’s names for no good reason. It’s a quick read, so use the extra time to subscribe to the TV Writer feed. It should prove useful to anyone writing just about anything.

  • “Silence has become the ultimate luxury,” says an article in the New Republic, so much so that we’re willing to pay for it. This comprehensive piece covers silence as a commodity, from Amtrak’s silent cars to noiseless appliances, but it also digs deeper into our preoccupation with eliminating noise.

  • When is a joke too soon? Slate looks at humor that follows tragedy and tries to get to the bottom of why some types of humor work while other jokes fall flat. The Onion’s post-911 headlines generated a lot of positive responses, which they say is largely due to the fact that they chose the right targets for their satire. Timing, then, is only part of the equation. 

  • Does reading literature make you a better bully? The Stanford Center for Ethics says it can. A heightened ability to understand human emotions can make one more skilled at manipulation and harassment. While that doesn’t mean that reading automatically makes meanies, the panel disagrees with the notion that reading automatically improves morals, as some have tried to prove.



Have you read any movie novelizations? Made any jokes too soon? Botched your dialogue or been a bully? Let me know. If not, we can all enjoy the silence.

12 comments:

  1. Always fascinated by novelisations (did Spielberg really do his own for CE3K?) - thanks Kelly.

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    1. No one seems to know for sure. I haven't read it, but those who have say it reads like a treatment, so maybe. I think it's also possible that a ghost writer was brought in, and Spielberg's name was retained since he wrote the original story.

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  2. As a kid in junior high movie tie-ins were *the* books to buy for me. I had lots of them and I felt very adult carrying them around with me. TALES FROM THE CRYPT, BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES, and ESCAPE FROM THE PLANET OF THE APES are the first few that I remember being excited to buy with my own money. But it was a phase. I'd never buy a tie-in novel these days. I hear they are great fun to write though and the pay is the perfect way to tide one over when the royalty checks are in the double digits or utterly absent.

    I loathe the trend of TV characters who constantly address one another. It's something the soap opera writers of the 1970s started I think (Is that mentioned in the article? Didn't read it. Sorry.) And it's necessary for soap operas because it's the way to indoctrinate new viewers to the usually huge cast of characters. But for any other type of wiring -- movies, plays, TV, and some novels -- it bugs the hell out of me.

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    1. I read some when I was young, too. I got away with reading novelized versions of films I wasn't able to see. I also likes novelized versions of films I'd seen, especially when they contained stuff that wasn't in the movie.

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    2. I, too, picked up some of the APES books (Michael Avallone's BENEATH and John Jakes's CONQUEST...my father picked up George Alec Effinger's APES tv series noveliaztion), and William Johnstone's novelizations of GET SMART and HAPPY DAYS when I was around 10...a few of the more ambitious novelizations, such as Thomas Disch's THE PRISONER, Edward Bryant's PHOENIX WITHOUT ASHES and Barry Malzberg's PHASE IV were more memorable...and the mixed bag of earnest fan-fiction that was STAR TREK: THE NEW VOYAGES (with such talented writers as Ruth Berman included)...though both Alice "James Tiptree" Sheldon and Ursula K. Le Guin have written some affectionate TREK pastiches...

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  3. I love silence. My house is always quiet. Except when the grandkids are here of course!

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    1. My neighbor practices the drums in the middle of the day when I'm writing sometimes. If a murder happens, you'll know the motive.

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  4. The Scribe Awards shortlist for this year's ceremonies, from the association of media tie-in writers:
    http://iamtw.org/the-scribe-awards/scribe-award-nominees/

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    1. Interesting! I was surprised to see short stories on the list. I'm unsure what the media tie-in function of a short piece is.

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    2. Pretty much the same as any other "shared-world" story...most probably in media-tie-in anthologies (though some of the mystery and sf magazines have featured tie-in stories over the years, and even TV GUIDE has been known to run James Bond and soap-opear tie-in short fiction...).

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  5. I'm sure I've delved into the realm of inappropriately timed humor, but it's weird at times when I've heard the "Too Soon" cries and something really is funny in a sick sort of way. If it's funny it's funny.

    Lee
    Wrote By Rote
    An A to Z Co-host blog

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