Guest Post

Plotting a movie or a novel?

(Today’s guest post was written by Angela Archer. You can check out her blog here to learn more about her! Be sure to follow her on Twitter and Facebook, too.)

Have you ever watched a movie that so profoundly ignites your passion for plot you immediately go online to search for the book version? You pound on the buy button with feverish fervor, wait anxiously by the mailbox, tear open your package before you even enter your house, park yourself on the couch, open the book, and by page ten throw it across the living room, screaming “That’s not what happened in the movie!”

I have.

With The Last of the Mohicans.

Talk about Hollywood changing a plot! Holy cow. I wonder if James Fenimore Cooper actually rolled over in his grave when they wrote the script for that movie. Of course, at the same time, Mr. Cooper’s Historical Novel wasn’t ever well received. Even he, himself, acknowledged inconsistencies in his plot and characters. But, my point and question is why? Why did the scriptwriters and producers change the plot? Was it too confusing? Did it lack drama?

For the most part, people tend to believe that the book is always better than the movie. It offers more details, and more insight. While movies from novels written in first person offer the points of view from the other characters, an intriguing twist, certainly, a more vivid picture of the story can be told better in a novel than a 90-110 minute film. Even with visual effects, the imagination is far more advanced than any computer could ever dream of being.

Not to mention, usually books are read first, and by nature human beings don’t like change. We saw it one way in our heads; we don’t like to see it another way on the big screen. I remember someone once told me that seeing the movie Twilight before reading the book ruined the book for her because as the characters were introduced in the book, all she envisioned were the actors.

Anyways, back to my point. About two years into writing my novel, I had an epiphany to add in a few other elements to the story. Thickening the plot by filling it with the drama and a depth I believed it was seriously lacking, and thrusting my characters into a whirlwind tailspin with secrets that could destroy them. My quest turned into not simply writing a boring love story, but to write a novel that bestows readers with a passionate love story AND a story of rebellion, blackmail, and greed in a time when our country was divided by war. *Insert evil laugh*

My manuscript had more plot twists than Lombard Street has turns, and I loved it.

What I didn’t realize was I was writing a movie. Not a book. And, in trying to intertwine all these different plot twists and plot points, I lost my novel’s place in this world. It hovered between two genres. It hovered between two plots. Just like movies do. I was creating too much and was cheating my main characters out of their story with unneeded drama.

Thankfully, the error of my ways was pointed out to me, though it wasn’t until after I had submitted my manuscript to a dozen agents and publishers. Grr… Oh well, everyday we learn something new, right? Hopefully, the changes I have made have fixed the problem.

I suppose I will find out after I submit the revised draft to the publisher who was interested, but wanted my obvious movie problem fixed. Fingers crossed!


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