Strassur the Red Panther

Toughts of a Reader and a Writer

Month: January, 2014

Character or Plot? Who will be the victor?

When it comes to importance, Character is the key. A plot is needed to begin your process, but a character is what drives the plot. We have all most likely watched a movie because one of our favorite actors or actresses are in it, or because it is a sequel with a character we loved. I loved the old Conan movies starring Arnold, so of course I had to watch Red Sonia because it had basically the same character in it. The traits of a well written character are what makes us as the reader or viewer relate or feel emotion towards them. If aliens are attacking a city, it’s exciting to watch, but without someone there we care about then it is just destruction, not drama.

I like a quote in Seymour Chatman’s book, Story and Discourse: Narrative Structure in Fiction and Film, “The character plays a role of connecting thread helping us to orient ourselves amid the piling-up of details.” (Page 111) By being in the mind of the character, or seeing events through their eyes, we as readers are able to understand what is going on, or to only see what the author wants us to see until the right time. The character is the perfect tool to keep us on track and in the desired direction. Now, there has to be a reason why we are reading the book, so plot is important, but characters are the ones we remembers and love.

Final score:
Character 1
Plot 0

What’s your opinion?

Book or Film? That is the question.

I was recently asked whether I preferred books or films, and if I could name an awesome one in each, and the question was a little more difficult than I thought.  Like most, I generally feel that a book is a more descriptive medium than a film because of the time limitations that movies have.  One movies that I found better then the book was Rambo: First Blood.  It’s possible that this is due to me seeing the movie when I was very young and reading the book, First Blood by David Morrell many years later.  I like the way the director portrayed Rambo in the film, more of a victim of society due to his status as a Vietnam vet.  Sylvester Stallon did a decent job playing the part that showed a man just passing through, being driven to the point of his violent reaction by the Sheriff.  I think the film does well in showing his confused emotions and PTSD like behavior.  In the book, Rambo is much more of an asshole that almost deserves the initial conflict.  Both are great pieces, but the film drew me in much more. 

               For books being better than films, the list is long. I am a huge medieval and fantasy genre fan, but to stick with the war type stories, my top choice is Blackhawk Down, by Mark Bowden.  Both the book and film were well done, showing the leadership challenges and frustrations of the conflict in Mogadishu, but the book dove much deeper into the perspective of the Somali people.  The author actually interviewed many people who were there during this time frame, and described how some Somalis wanted to stay out of it. One scene talks about a pharmacist who intended to staying indoors, but became angered when this friend was struck by a stray bullet, which he blamed on the US soldiers.  This angered him and encouraged him to take up arms and join the fight.  A movie simply does not have the time to get into lore, back story or even character development as much as a book does.

               Character and conflict can still be created in film, but a well written book seems to make you love or hate the people involved much more.  A huge benefit of film, however, is the time investment.  You can essentially watch an abridged version in 2 hours and still grasp the main story and message.  Books can take much longer, especially those 800 pagers like Pillars of the Earth or Sword of Shannara.