Writer’s Wisdom 89

What came first, the book or the movie?

Usually a book is written and the movie follows, but with The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks, it was a different case.  In an interview with Borders, Nicholas Sparks said that he was writing the screenplay at the same time that he was writing the book.  They wanted to release the movie fast so he actually was writing the screenplay first.  I thought that was amazing, and it must have required so much on his part.  I wonder how many best-selling authors would be able to do that if asked.  In my humble opinion, even that it is the same story, there are such different environments, that the process of writing the book would be affected.  Obviously, this did not happen to him, and I admire him for being able to do this.  I am sure that his fans and the movie fans as well thank him for doing this.

So, what came first the book or the movie?  In the case of The Last Song, it seems that the movie came first.

The Simple Life – Focusing on What’s Truly Important

Years ago, I went to an outside flea market and an old framed print caught my attention.  It was on a table, amongst many other better items, and not even showing much.  The price was $5.00.  I pondered for a few minutes and decided not to buy it, a few seconds later, after I started walking, I turned back and bought it.  I have it hanging on the second floor wall and as I go up and down the stairs I glance at it.

The old picture frame is in very shabby condition, with scratches in the wood, and the paper that used to cover the back (like in the old way of framing) is gone.  It has an old and rusty twisted wire attached with some screws in the back, and the poor thing looks like it has seen better days long time ago.  However, the print on the inside is covered by the intact and in great shape heavy glass and is in very good condition.

The print is called “When Daddy’s Ship Comes Home” by Bernard Pothast.  It shows a very poor family admiring a toy that the Dad brought home from one of his trips.  What captivates me about this picture is the few items that the home has, only the most essential things, and very few, limited to the table and chairs where they are sitting and a spoon rack with 3 spoons on it.  Now, there seems to be four people in this family, the mother, two kids, and the Father, who obviously is mostly at sea.  But things in this house come in three.  The well behaved kids, mesmerized by the object that the Dad is showing them also captures my attention, as so is the attention that this family is giving to the bread winner of the home.  They have so little, they are so poor, but yet they manage to focus on what it is important at the moment – Dad is home.
Dad may have decided to bring other type of item, a necessary item, maybe another spoon, or another piece of furniture,or even a big turkey – however, he managed to bring something that the kids would be mesmerized with, and will remember.  He was making the best of his stay with the kids, until his ship sails again.

It is obvious why this picture speaks tons of words by just looking at it, it is so simple, yet says so much.  For me the message is “to live simply and focus on what is truly important.”

Here is a picture of the scene.

Writer’s Wisdom 88

James Patterson – Genius of all Trades

I cannot think any other way when thinking about Best-selling author James Patterson – the man is a genius, not only as a writer but as a business man in the writing business.  He seems to know what readers want, and he seems to love what he does.  I love his lay-back demure and every time I see him being interviewed he conveys this message thru his attitude and personality – “All is well” – no matter the deadlines and pressures of everyday living – “All is well.”  He is truly the Valium of all writers.  If I feel a bit crazy and anxious about what’s going on at the moment or any projects, I play an online interview with James Patterson, and it truly relaxes me.  It may sound weird, but it works for me.  You should give it a try, if you are feeling tense with your work or any other daily craziness.

James Patterson is a Genius of all trades.  He has managed to please and captivate readers of all ages and literary likes.  Here is an example of what I mean.  With Miracle on the 17th Green, he manages to be inspirational.  He manages to capture young readers with the Maximun Ride series, and gives them kid adventure.  Worst Case is for the mystery lovers, who like cops and homicide cases.  Witch and Wizard is loved by kids and young adults, but by adults too.  Is there anything he can’t do?

One thing is for sure, the man knows what he is doing, and he is an inspiration to aspiring writers.

Writer’s Wisdom 87

When Cities Take Life

Many times, authors write a novel and most of it takes place in a particular city or spot – being that city real or imaginary is not important.  Sometimes the soul of the city comes alive and the city itself becomes a character, an important part of the story.  The city breathes and even talks to the reader as he/she follows the story.  This always fascinated me – how a city or place awakens and sometimes takes over its place in the story and the readers minds.

A good example of this is the city of Forks in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga.  Forks is a real place in Washington, but it also became real in the minds and hearts of readers.  The real city of Forks has seen a flock of Twilight fans visiting and touring while reminiscing about their favorite parts in the books.

Another good example is the city of Barcelona, Spain in “The Angels Game” by Carlos Ruiz Safon, and what better example to illustrate this point than the island in the TV series Lost.  The island becomes the main character, in my opinion.

Such is the power of words and description, conveying feelings, emotions, smells, sounds … that they become spells that give life to cities and places, and those places continue to grow and develop infinitely in the mind of readers – an amazing and extraordinary event.

Writer’s Wisdom 86

A Reader’s Game

At one point, you probably have asked yourself – “How do best-selling authors do it?”  “How do they keep their readers coming back for more?”

An easy answer to that question is with another question – What keeps us coming back to our favorite authors? 

However, part of their magic is that they know how to play the reader’s game – they challenge their readers.  They give them more of what they want, but at the same time, best-selling authors seem to know when to stop, and how to encourage readers to look for more inside the story.  They feed the story slowly, and they give the readers morsels of mystery and awe, of emotion and feeling, and the readers love the game.

But most important is that they seem to love the game of writing as well, they love what they do, they are true to the story and their characters, and they respect their readers.


The other day, I was watching a silent movie from the 1920’s called Metropolis.  It lasted for over an hour, and I was surprised that it kept me interested despite not having any words or sounds, just the occasional line on the  screen.  The movie was full of symbolism, both, religious and political, and reflected many trends of the time.  I was glued to it, at one point.  Then, I started thinking, what is it about this silent movie that captivated my attention?

Soon, I understood, it was the symbolism throughout, despite no words.  Then, I thought that this same principle is applied in writing.  In writing, when words don’t suffice, a writer must use symbolism to keep the reader interested.  A writer must keep the reader discovering. 

This certainly brought a new awareness to my writing, and the funny part is that it came from a silent movie.

Writer’s Wisdom 85

Of Books and Movies

There seems to be two teams of authors when we talk about books and movies.  The authors who enjoy the process of working and collaborating in the making of their best seller into a movie, and the authors who will leave the process entirely up to the director and the movie industry.  However, there is one unifying and common opinion of both groups – both agree that movies are a complete different animal, and as long as the integrity of the story is kept, they can deal with any other changes.

I tend to agree with this.  If a movie where to be made exactly as a book was written, it would actually be boring on-screen.  A movie needs a soul of its own, and that is what Directors do best – they give a different kind of life to the written word, a reincarnation  (if you can call it that), a second incarnation for the book lovers where they can appreciate other levels and dimensions of the same story.

Writer’s Wisdom 84

The Magic of Best-selling Authors

What is the key to enchanting writing?  What is the secret of best-selling authors?  I am sure that most of us, at one point, have been captivated  with a book from a favorite author – being that person a best-selling author or not.  How do best-selling authors get to captivate so many readers?  It seems natural to think that they plan their writing and target a certain section of the population to obtain readership.  Right?

This could not be further from the truth.  While being interviewed many best-selling authors have said that they write for themselves – as in the case of Stephenie Meyer or Lee Child.  They say that they are honest to the story when writing, and they keep honest to the reader.  They seem to be of the opinion that if you evoke feelings in yourself when writing the story, you will evoke feelings on the reader as well.  Another trend is that they also mention how blessed they feel to be doing what they love – to write.

So there is no big secret of best-selling authors.  It seems that they write with passion for themselves – and they love it.