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The Transition from Literature to Film

For decades, audiences have witnessed pieces of text translated into film adaptations, such as Dracula, Murder on the Orient Express, etc. Writer participation within the film making is usually nonexistent or very minimal, which is found to be strange considering they are the ones who have created the story, characters, etc. Literature translating to film will most likely continue but should the writer be more involved within film making?

  • Note: there are quite a few films where the author of the literature serves in a consultative role. Examples of this are the author of Inspector Morse in the eponymously-named series and the author of the Twilight series. – J.D. Jankowski 1 year ago
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  • Three thoughts: 1) There is quite literally an entire field of academic study -- Adaptation Studies -- devoted to this exact premise. I'm having a hard time picturing what a short article with such a general scope might be able to add to the discussion that hasn't already been well-trodden territory in that field's many journals and monographs. If you're interested in reading some introductory material on the subject, I'd strongly recommend either "A Theory of Adaptation" by Linda Hutcheon or "Film Adaptation and Its Discontents" by Thomas Leitch. 2) If the intended focus of this article is the question of authorship, and particularly the lack of creative involvement the authors of source texts typically have in the creation of adaptations, then why do you only mention long-deceased authors (i.e. Bram Stoker and Agatha Christie)? It doesn't seem very likely/possible that either of them will have much input in contemporary film adaptations of their novels. Living authors by contrast, retain copyright over their works, meaning they get some degree of choice over who is given film-rights to their books. Even when they don't have screenwriter or consultant credits on the finished film, the fact that they sold the rights to such-and-such studio and/or filmmaker arguably acts as somewhat of a tacit endorsement, no? 3) J.D.'s suggestions are certainly more instructive, and there are no lack of similar examples. A few that immediately come to mind are GRRM's consultant role on Game of Thrones, Mario Puzo co-writing the screenplay for The Godfather, John Patrick Shanley writing and directing the film version of Doubt, etc. The list can go on and on. However, what I think might be more compelling -- and perhaps more relevant to the issue you seem to be raising -- are instances wherein the original authors are famously displeased with the films made out of their books. I believe this to have been the case with Milan Kundera's reaction to the adaptation of Unbearable Lightness of Being, as was Umberto Eco's to that of The Name of the Rose. (Interesting that both of these cases concern quintessentially postmodern novels, in which the form and content are inextricably linked; that said, Vonnegut apparently really liked the Slaughterhouse-Five movie, so who knows?) If you want to go even further back, prior to copyright restrictions, Dickens was famously displeased with stage adaptors in his own time writing and producing theatrical versions of his novels. What especially concerned him was when they did so prior to the novel's completion in monthly serialized publication, forcing these playwrights to make wild guesses at the endings … sometimes correctly, sometimes not (see Karen Laird's "The Art of Adapting Victorian Literature, 1848-1920" for more details). Anyway, hope some of that helps. – ProtoCanon 1 year ago
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  • I'd suggest doing a lot more research on what is actually done when adapting films from literature. Generally the author may not be in a consulting role (for instance when not alive) but there are always organisations that have copyright over the text. A great example of this is the Tolkien Society that has to approve any pitches relating to any films or series that are based on Tolkien's plethora of literature. – cjvisser 1 year ago
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  • I would say yes, writers of novels or other literary pieces set for adaptation should be more involved with the filmmaking process. Firstly, many undergraduate and masters level creative writing degrees are drifting towards a broader approach; making students take screenplay/play writing, prose, and poetry classes for their degrees. It would be silly to not use the creator of a piece if they have been trained in scriptwriting. Secondly, I believe that if a writer of say a novel has captured the attention of a readership, they should at the very least, be in a creative consulting role. The author knows the intimate ins and outs of their story, and more importantly to companies, what the audience does and does not like. If the readers pick up on this shift, you can bet the adaption isn’t lasting long, case and point the unfinished “Divergent” and “City of Bones” movie series's. – Nabs 1 year ago
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  • i definitely think writers should be much more involved in the making of the movie or shows especially for older books because the fan base and readers have probably been waiting for years and years for these stories to become movies and shows and having the disappointment of watching it after all that wait only for it to be a completely different thing to the book is heartbreaking – LMM 2 months ago
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  • I think this is very interesting because many people discuss how they are unable to read a book after seeing the movie first. I wonder what kind of notoriety a book needs in order to be brought into a film. – cnschmidtwi1 1 month ago
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  • Literature to screen adaptations are quite fascinating! One challenge of adapting a book to the screen is rewriting and changing the text to fit into the differing conventions of film. When adapting scenes from a text, the film will always be different from the written text because the two mediums express the meaning differently. For instance, while text is able to be rely on a character’s internal monologue, films can only show viewers what is happening and have to convey the information the text presented to readers using a range of cinematic techniques. In regards to whether or not writers should be more involved in the film making process, it's an interesting thing to look at, as there are a fair share of films whose authors didn't participate that were highly regarded by fans, and others that definitely were not, and vice versa. Something that might also be interesting to look at within this topic are the different adaptations of the adaptations, and people's reactions and expectations of them. For example, the movie adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, I always think of is the one with Keira Knightley, rather than any of the others. – Summra12 1 month ago
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The presence of racism in H.P Lovecraft's work

Many of famous horror author H.P Lovecraft’s work contains themes and language indicative of racism towards indigenous and black communities. Even the famed "Call of Cthulu" retains aspects of racism when referring to the activities of indigenous and black communities. They are labeled as practicing "Voodoo", and often referred to as savages. How has the work of H.P Lovecraft aged? Is something like this acceptable for fans of the genre to hold as an example?

    Taken by Beaucephalis (PM) 2 months ago.
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    Gender Roles in the Wheel of Time Series.

    Analyze the gender roles of major characters in the series. Does Robert Jordan take a modern perspective on gender roles and place them into a high fantasy epic, or does he create protagonists that fill the gender roles of their culture within the novels? If the latter, then is the author offering a critique on modern gender roles? If the former, then is the author contriving to elevate the importance of certain roles in order to create a richer narrative that is more palatable for modern audiences? A starting point could be the first three novels of the series following: Rand, Perrin, Mat, Lan, Egwene, Nynaeve,
    Moiraine, and Elayne. How is the act of channeling used to affect gender roles? How do the prejudices against both men and women that can channel affect Andor for better or worse?

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      The Best Short Stories and Short Story Conventions

      Short stories form the backbone of almost any literature and creative writing class, either because students read or write them. Either way, they are analyzed–sometimes to the point of death, but we hope today’s literature students and teachers are moving past such tendencies.

      Of the myriad of short stories that exist, classic and contemporary, what are some that should belong in any canon? In particular, discuss contemporary stories or collections not getting attention right now, that should be. To go along with this, what are some universal themes, character traits, or tropes that make a short story "work" better than it would if it were written in longer form? Do some topics or themes lend themselves better to short form, and why?

      • I tend to favor the practicality of the short story for inducement to entertain, either personally or formally. Two titles in particular exemplify this viewpoint: The Lottery by Shirley Jackson and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. As you mention, the commentary on social norms that they bring to the fore have been exhaustively analysed. But, I think that they serve the greater purpose of shedding light on the quirks of society that are overlooked or simply ignored in the haste of the day. Furthermore, they can provide a conducive outlet for what would otherwise manifest in cold or violent indifference. At the very least, the short story can be an entry point into much lengthier and broader literature or a welcome reprieve from it. – L:Freire 3 years ago
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      • The short story, the ancient art that we knew, is still written and written abundantly, but the lack of follow-up may make us think it is an art of extinction, and no longer exists only in the form of simple flashes here and there. In fact, I have been able to read in the past few months a large number of story collections, with different qualities and atmospheres. Enough on the things the writer wants to point out, and let the reader complete in his mind what he thinks the writer may have wanted to write. – rosejone 3 years ago
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      • I personally never got too into short stories. I've always devoured novels, and all my book/article ideas seem to come in "long form." Seriously, I was telling people at age ten that my 50-page "masterpieces" were "novels." That said, there are a few short stories that have stuck with me for years, and if they can win me over, they can win anyone over. :) I wanted to know other people's opinions so I could try some more short stories. – Stephanie M. 3 years ago
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      • I think if you're going to list some outstanding short stories, you can't go past 'Recitatif' by Toni Morrison! It demands the reader to judge their own assumptions about stories and storytelling. It is thus self-aware while simultaneously beautifully crafted, with strong characters and complex themes. It is this sense of completion yet ample room for the reader to draw their own conclusions that make it so successful as a short story. A short story must be satisfying as well as food for rumination, which 'Recitatif' certainly is. – bruna 2 months ago
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      • Having just completed a college course on short story workshop, I feel like I have at least some qualification to speak on this topic. The short story is an interesting medium of art because the goal is to tell a story with a beginning, middle, and presumably, end, in a matter of pages. Despite the shorter length than a novel, I would say that writing a short story might in some cases be harder to write than a full-length novel because you have to pay more attention to detail; you have a limited amount of space to get through all the main points of your story, and every line needs to count. In some cases, you are basically writing a miniture novel without the freedom and conventions of a novel. – Sierra Refit 2 months ago
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      Fantasy and Historical Eras

      It is interesting to note how certain genres or styles are inexplicably linked to specific eras in history. For example, fantasy video games, movies, shows or franchises such as the Witcher, Game of Thrones, and others are often stylized to reflect Medieval era.
      In the same way, the Steampunk aesthetic is rooted in Victorian England pieces.
      It would be an interesting analysis to explore how Medieval literature such as the Canterbury Tales, Troilus and Criseida, Sir Gawin and the Green Knight and others held fantasy elements in their foundation which laid the groundwork for it becoming a framework for modern fantasy works.
      In the same way, the steampunk elements pulled from the Victorian Era can be analyzed in context of the boom of the industrial revolution.
      What was the path to these connections of era and aesthetic? Where were its modern origins? And what is it about these historical movements in society and literature that made them withstand modernization while preserving these core elements?

      • Great concept, would be interesting to see how this applies to Science Fiction as a look to the future! – PopJ 3 months ago
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      In fantasy, what are the advantages and disadvantages of populating a world with established and popular races such as elves, dwarves, etc.?

      Fantasy worlds, especially in a post-Tolkien setting, have tended to be peopled by many of the same types of beings: elves and dwarves, humans and orcs, giants and halflings. Many of these races, however, are reflective of real-world stereotyping at best and racism at worst. While of course most contemporary authors presumably do not mean to emphasize these negative associations and are merely utilizing shorthand inherent of the fantasy genre, the historical context of some of these races (especially evil or primitive races) still lingers. Steps have been taken by some, such as the publisher Wizards of the Coast, to challenge established norms of fantasy races and their characterizations. Nevertheless, the majority of fantasy still adheres to these popular tropes.

      But is an author in 2022 who includes an unfavorable caricature-turned fantasy race in their story responsible for its negative history? Are contemporary vampires, who are largely praised for the wide variety of lifestyles and peoples they can represent in fiction, meant to be equated with Rowling’s goblins, who are often criticized as being an anti-Semitic stereotype? Are we far enough removed from Tolkien and his fantasy archetypes so entrenched in the fantasy genre that they have left their racially-charged roots behind? Is it useful to keep reverting to using monolithic races such as elves, dwarves, and orcs as literary shorthand for character traits? Or do new races which are not monolithic needed to keep fantasy from stagnating? Is that even possible?

      In short, what are the advantages and disadvantages to continuing to use established fantasy races in the genre?

      • I think using actual quotes proving that the author has some racist ideal's would help establish credibility that Tolkien and other authors intentionally tried to create offensive depictions of other groups. This is typically the problem with this topic as for years people have tried to prove that Tolkien based orcs off (Africans, Jews, or Asians) with little success. This topic is not really new as this question came up in 2002 when Peter Jackson worked on The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and again when the YouTube channel extra credits made a video saying that Orcs in video-games are an offensive depiction of black people. I am certain that some authors are actual racist and deliberately made fictional characters to depict a group of people. ( ex. H.P. Lovecraft was a known racist and homophob, but we have proof explaining that his work was based off his fears of other cultures/groups. Lovecraft also began to change his views later in life due to his friendship with a gay man.) Without that layer of definitive proof it is going to come across as speculation (I am aware of how Tolkien describes Orcs in The lord of Rings and The Silmarillion. But that doesn't prove he was delibrately basing them off of a particular racial group.) So, who ever writes on this topic should be careful not to simply state what Tolkien's intentions are with out proof. – Blackcat130 3 months ago
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      • "disadvantage" is a also a word,bit for my opinion,it's bad cause it might cause a lack of financial balance between humans and other creatures – Arlonavigne 3 months ago
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      • I believe the advantage comes from keeping fantasy stories accessible. For instance, although elves are portrayed in countless ways across the genre, they are grounded in specific conventions (pointed ears, slim-frame, slender etc.) which serves as a recognisable archetype from which writers build their narrative. It frees the writer from needing to outline, describe and explain an entirely new species. Alternatively, by choosing to utilise one such character, or 'species-archetype', the writer must adhere to these conventions in some fashion, limiting their creative choice to a certain, albeit, minimal extent. – Tea 2 months ago
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      • Personally, I think that while there is possibly a hurtful/harmful message behind the creation of some of these races, it is still fiction. At the end of the day Orcs, Elves, Dwarves, etc. don't exist outside of the context of the books. In our writing we are free to create new races, we don't have to stick to the old ones just because it's easy and they've already been established and people know them. As writers, we have the ability to undo or change the narrative on these things. – KGP5118 2 months ago
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      7

      The Battle for Artistic Freedom: Fanfiction and Copyright

      The Tolkien Estate recently changed their copyright, stating that under no circumstances may a person “create materials which refer to the characters, stories, places, events or other elements contained in any of Tolkien’s work”. Close on the heels of this announcement came the importing of The Library of Moria fanfiction archive into the Archive of Our Own network; an archive with a legal team that works to protect the content hosted there.

      This isn’t the first time that an author or estate has laid down the law regarding the creation of fan content under the arguments of copyright and protecting the integrity of the original work. Authors like Anne McCaffrey and Anne Rice have well-remembered conflicts revolving around fanfiction of their books – but what is the future of fan works in a world of cease-and-desists, DMCAs and fiercely-protected copyright claims? The majority of fanfiction and other fan work is created and consumed for free out of a passion for the source material. Is it an estate or author’s right to ban the creation of any and all fan content in the name of ‘integrity’?

      • Whoever decides to write about this topic, I highly recommend they look at Japan's doujinshi (self-published) community. Many fans will self-publish their own fan-faction of popular franchises, and it is not that big of a deal. Even when the content is NSFW no one makes that big of a deal. It is even encouraged by some creators. The artist for Dragon Ball Super Toyotarou actually started out as a Doujinshi artist for Dragon Ball and was eventually chosen by Akira Toriyama to continue the Dragon Ball series officially. I think it would be interesting to see a compare and contrast of these two different approaches to handling the fan-fiction community. – Blackcat130 4 months ago
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      • There is also something to be said about the idea of commissioning fanfiction. The idea of paying someone to write about other copyrighted characters and franchises is debatable and interesting when it comes to trying to figure out whether or not doing so impacts the artists integrity or not. Is it wrong to pay someone that is not affiliated with certain works to make something with the same characters or even the same universe? – Belle 3 months ago
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      Reading Anne Frank at a New Stage of COVID

      When the COVID-19 pandemic began, a handful of writers found solace and inspiration in Anne Frank. PJ Grisar of the Jewish Daily Forward, essayist Leigh Stein, and others wrote about how "the world [looked] to Anne Frank" during the first wave of the crisis (Grisar) and how her experiences contrasted with and mirrored our own.

      Two years later, Anne Frank and her "mirror" have not gone away. Some continue looking to her for inspiration, while others, such as Robert F. Kennedy Jr., compare living as an unvaccinated American to living as a Holocaust victim, thereby stirring controversy and anger. But no matter how Anne Frank fits into the pandemic landscape, she remains a major part of it for many people.

      How do you think readings and discussions of Anne Frank’s diary will change as the pandemic enters a new stage and hopefully ends soon? Why do you think she resonates, even though comparing our situation to the Holocaust and Nazi Germany is rightfully offensive? Are there examples of classic or current fiction that could be read alongside Anne Frank as a study of the pandemic, lockdowns, and similar situations? Discuss.

      • Oooo I like this. I think adding the being cooped up inside and the antisemitic parallels to this article would really set it off. What we deal with is always compared to the past, but in this case, it’s usually in a wrong way and racist. Diving into this would be great and produce such a good story – mynameisarianna 5 months ago
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