Great insight… From someone who knows…Outlander from a scriptwriter’s perspective 

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I’ve said this before, but one of the great things about writing a blog is hearing from people from all walks of life. In the past,  I’ve posted comments from actors and producers because of their unique perspective.  This past week , I heard from someone who adapts books into scripts for TV.  We all would like to think we know how to adapt Outlander for the screen (just look anywhere the show is discussed on social media), but this person KNOWS.  She agreed to let me share her thoughts in a post.  

Thanks Lori! 



I am an avid Outlander fan. Been reading the books since they were each released. I remember being at the library for each subsequent release and waiting anxiously for them to catalog it so I could be the first to take it home. (LOL – it got to the point that they’d call me the second it came in – small town libraries are wonderful!) That said, I am now a screenwriter. It has been my job to adapt books and stories for the screen.

There’s a lot that goes into storytelling on the screen that is totally different from what’s on the page. The reason that the books are always better is that an author has no limitation whatsoever in what they imagine. It can all come to pass. But for the screen, a variety of things need to be considered. Budget. Pacing. How does the action happen from point A to point B” Would the carving of their initials slow down the overall pace or cause it to stutter. Would it add to the storyline in the future? Is it something easily done by the props department or could that one scene add a hefty amount to the budget? On that one specifically, it would add a bit of a headache for the makeup department – ANYTIME their hands would be shown in the future, the initials would need to be exact. precise, and there. It adds a bit of a headache for continuity purposes. Cause I promise the second they would be seen without it, there would be an uproar! Heck, fans are angry now because it isn’t the proper hand on Jamie that was injured by BJR. I have seen entire blog posts on it -and that’s a simple one to explain!

When adapting to for film, you need to take the book (whatever length it is – 300? 500?) and put it into about 90-120 pages. MAYBE 150 if you have a good budget and are able to put a longer version into theaters. For television, it’s usually 42 pages per episode. That isn’t a lot of space to get in all the good stuff. And sometimes you just need to switch things up a bit to make the story flow better.

This is, by far, the best adaptation I have seen from page to screen. They have been beautifully faithful to the books. Often, when buying or optioning the rights to books, the filmmakers love the story, but they want to tell it their own way. They see it more as an inspiration. I have been brought in often by authors because they know how much I love the source material and that I will usually remain faithful to it rather than try to change it to make it my own. I have had a couple of authors who have given me leave to run with their characters and build what I want from their universe (Jodi Thomas was beautiful about that – just want to give a shout out there!) but more often than not, it’s the other way around. And authors just aren’t as understanding of how storytelling goes on the screen because it’s so different.

I deeply admire the creative team and showrunners on Outlander. I watch each episode and come away utterly delighted from the fan perspective and blown away as a writer. I know the razor’s edge they walk in order to keep fans of the books happy AND reach out to new viewers who have never read the books. It’s a horrible balancing act and it’s rarely done as well as it has been here.
:) Thank you for highlighting some of the differences and showing perspective on this!:) Love your wraps/insight!  Lori Twichell (@Twichie)

 

 

Fandom Shaming Needs to GO #RespectTheFandoms — The Word Peddler

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LOVED THE THOUGHTS EXPRESSED HERE AND WANTED TO SHARE!

I have no idea what a Magmar is, other than the word kinda looks like Ragnar. Which makes me think of Ragnar Lothbrok…which makes me wonder when the new season of Viking starts. I don’t know because it isn’t my fandom. And I’m okay with that. Some people, however…aren’t. My kids like Pokemon Go. They […]

via Fandom Shaming Needs to GO #RespectTheFandoms — The Word Peddler

“Find your way back to us” …a reflection on the Outlander fandom today

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I’m hoping the dust has settled enough for me to write this.  Be patient please it is longer than I normally write and I need you to read to the end! It has been an -interesting -year in the fandom to say the least.  Those folks who have been around since the beginning will testify that things have changed. I’m not sure if this is a natural progression in all fandom, growing pains if you will, or something unique to this fandom. This is my first.  I started the blog about two and a half years ago and in that time I’ve had a lot of contact with fans and had time to observe changes…

IN THE BEGINNING

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I tiptoed into the fandom.  It started with being fascinated by the books and wanting to know more about the author.  I discovered Herself’s Facebook page and CompuServe.  I was at the time, but didn’t know it, a lurker.  I watched and read others interactions, but didn’t feel confident enough to wade in myself.  One day, news came that the books were finally being made into film and my interest was piqued.  I found myself showing up on social media at least once a day to see what was happening.  Eventually, our “cast watch” paid off with the news that the last person we expected to be cast was cast first.  Sam Heughan was to play Jamie.  To say his reception was lukewarm might be an understatement.  Now that I’m reflecting, I realize this was probably my first exposure to the negative side of our fandom.  Sam just didn’t fit the image of Jamie folks had in their heads and he didn’t fit Diana’s description in “the Book”. I just genuflected. Fidelity to the “book” is a major issue in the fandom.  Despite Diana’s assurances that she had her doubts until she saw the audition tape and explaining what it is that actors do…the debate and complaints continued.  At first, the passion was amusing to me. I found myself more times than not reading these raging debates about hair color and height while chuckling and eye-rolling.  It just couldn’t be taken seriously and I assumed most people could see it for what it was…silly, but harmless.

I would love to say things stayed that way, silly and harmless, but they didn’t.  Oh, for awhile things were great!  I ventured on to Twitter because I heard Sam tweeted and I wanted to say congratulations.  No, I still haven’t heard from him…grumble…grumble. But, in his defense I haven’t tweeted him very often and he has just a few fans now. I also began interacting with other fans.  Some folks were playing around with writing Outlander Haiku. I was amused and took a risk of posting one!

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Low and behold, people responded and I began to tweet back.  It was fun!  I was talking to people from all over the world! People were nice, polite, and funny!  We all marveled at how we had come together over a book and the phrase “because she wrote a book” was born.

Then, I had my next run in with the negative side of the fandom.  I’m not sure why it surprised me, people online are likely to be pretty much the same as people offline, but I was taken aback and saddened.  You see, I have an alarming lack of a suspicious nature.  I want to believe that everyone is genuine and has good intentions and I tend to overlook what most people would see as red flags.  I was warned.  My husband who is a good bit more cynical than myself was a bit worried about my interactions with people I only knew online, “People can pretend to be whomever they want to be on there.  You have no idea who you are talking to.”  He was right.  I struck up a friendship with someone I thought I had a lot in common with and ignored what were certainly red flags.  This person was not who she presented herself to be.  I’m not sure exactly what happened, but I have my suspicions that it had to do with jealousy.  I found myself ostracized for something I did not do and would never do.  I was hurt and angry for awhile, but remembered the advice I gave my daughter when she came home devastated by a rumor.

“Consider the source”, I told her.  “How important is this person’s opinion really?  Just because someone says something it doesn’t mean you have to take it in and give it power.  The people who know you best won’t believe it and they are the folks that matter. The best revenge is living well (or in my case writing well). You know who you are.  Find those people who know who you are too and keep being yourself.”  Pretty good advice and so, I decided to follow it and I wish others would too.  Not everyone you meet in the fandom is who they present themselves to be (hence multiple handles and sock accounts) it’s okay to be cautious and please understand not everyone plays by the same rules.

JUST BECAUSE SOMEONE SAYS SOMETHING

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I’ve done a lot of different things in my life.  My husband was a college football coach and we moved quite a bit.  Every time we moved I got a chance to reinvent myself and try on something new. My Gemini side liked it!  One of the things I had a chance to become was a mental health/drug and alcohol counselor.  I know this seems strange given my lack of a suspicious nature, but I think that same nature made me more empathetic.  I remember several of my clients because of their struggles with addiction and disease, but I also remember how much they taught me about what is important in life.  One client in particular helped me be a better mother.  Despite her own struggles, she was a good parent and I believe her daughter would most probably survive being the child of an addict because of life lessons taught by her mother.  It’s a paradox, I know, but life is rarely simple and easy to understand and addiction doesn’t care who you are or how you were raised.  One of funniest and most moving things my client ever told me was how she responded to her daughter when she came home from school upset by a bully who had called her names.

“Jimmy said I was a poop head!” her daughter tearfully exclaimed.

“Well, are you?” said her mother.

She told me her daughter looked shocked and puzzled.

“Go look in the mirror”, she suggested. “Is your head made of poop?”

Her daughter took a serious look into the mirror and responded, “No.”

“Then I guess you aren’t a poop head”, my client confirmed.

People say mean things, but that doesn’t make them true. When someone in the fandom calls you a name take a serious look in the mirror.  If you aren’t a poop head let it go and if you are? Acceptance is the first step to recovery.  You give it power when you take in the meanness and give it free rent in your head. Believe me when I say your being upset isn’t bothering the name caller at all.  They are most probably on their merry way spreading more shite…the poop heads.

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I used to believe that it was wrong to tell folks that complained about the show or fandom to stop watching or to get out.  I believed that they had every right to talk about what they liked and didn’t like and feel how they wanted to feel .  But, I think I might be changing my mind.  I get comments on the blog sometimes that give me pause to reconsider my stance on issues including this one. I hear from folks who find themselves so caught up in this fandom and show that it is affecting their well-being.

…there are certain iconic moments and iconic lines that readers have spent years investing themselves in that are ignored or given to the wrong characters, and we’re supposed to be grateful when it happens.

Too many iconic moments were “adapted” into oblivion or – an even worse sin – they were kept, but handed over to other characters. Hearing Claire deliver some of the lines that I have waited years to hear from Jamie’s lips was worse than omission-through-adaptation. At times, it felt like a betrayal of the book fandom, as though the book fandom got it all wrong and RDM was going to show us what we *should* have wanted instead (like shoving Frank down our throats when we’ve been waiting 20 years to see Jamie, and so on, and so on). The Harry Potter films were proper adaptations; if RDM and co. had “adapted” those series, he would have given Harry’s lines away to Snape and Ron, and Hermione would have defeated Voldemort herself, because letting Harry be Harry would have been ‘too predictable’ for book fans and women must be ‘liberated’…

I’m tired of feeling like a “Disgruntled” (as my once-favorite author labeled me on her very own Twitter feed… ) How silly of me to love something for over 10 years and be disappointed when it isn’t delivered, eh? I have been told so many times this season to love it or leave it that I have made the decision to leave it – all of it. It was fun while it lasted, but I give up, I’m shelving the books and leaving Outlander groups and blogs because I’m tired of being vilified for wanting more of what the books were actually about (hint: they are not about Frank; Jamie and Claire are partners and equals and Jamie doesn’t have to be emasculated for his wife to be strong; the love story is a character unto itself, not a side-plot to the Jacobite cause). I’m tired of walking around in an awful mood because of silly TV show and because internet strangers have made me feel bad about feeling bad.

Beth Wesson, your research is thorough and your blog well-written, and I am sad to disagree with such great efforts and writing. Good luck with S3, I’m sad I won’t be with you.

 

I replied.

I’m really sad that you feel this way, but I support your need for self care. If you find your self walking around upset and vilified it truly isn’t worth it. Thank you for reading.

If being in this fandom is causing you to feel angry and bad about yourself and affects your real-life … get out.  It truly isn’t worth it.

IF YOU LIE DOWN WITH DOGS YOU CAN GET FLEAS

A friend and I were discussing all the drama in the fandom.  She had gotten caught up in all the shipper/anti wars.  She wasn’t participating, but found herself fascinated.  It was like a car wreck that she couldn’t look away from. She found it was interesting to see how people interacted and thought…from a scientific psychological standpoint..ahem.

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She urged me to go to Tumblr and check it out.  She was right.  The rationalization and need to be right I saw was fascinating and …staggering.  I found myself reading what can only be termed as manifestos!  People were invested in this drama and it was getting uglier by the minute. It made me want to jump in and fix things and yet, I felt hopeless because I knew that there was nothing I could say or do that would make a difference or not make things worse! I found it was very easy to get caught up in the drama and I soon began to feel uncomfortable.

I will say that I think who you hang out with in this fandom might have a lot to do with how you feel about the fandom. What you spend your time on and who you spend it with matters. I found myself becoming anxious and upset when I read all the complaining and truly awful things said about other fans, the cast, crew, writers, producers, and Starz.   Then I realized that I needed to take my own advice and ask myself how much these people’s opinion mattered and how much power was I going to give them?  I took a look and realized that most were people I didn’t interact with and in the scheme of the millions of people who watch the show they were vocal, but certainly not a majority.

Spending time reading their stuff made me feel bad about myself and the fandom and so, I stopped going to certain blogs and pages and reading certain people’s tweets. Distancing myself was a positive choice. I felt much better and my friend and I, who had also decided to stop going to certain blogs, laughingly  wondered if something is said, but we didn’t read it did it actually happen?  Truly, in some instances, what you don’t know cant’t hurt you.

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I know there is a popular idea that turning a blind eye to this stuff is wrong.  On some level,  I agree there are times to stand up, but I also think that there are folks out there who crave the attention and drama and when we respond we feed the behavior. We have all been witness to bullies bullying in the name of stopping bullies.  I truly have yet to see any attempts, no matter how well intention-ed, to discuss and build bridges between fans that have actually worked. I applaud and admire the peacemakers’ courage and hearts. But, I’ve come to understand that there are more factions in this fandom than you can shake a stick at! Try to build a bridge with one group and you’ll just piss off another.  I don’t think it is a battle that can be won.

So, what’s to do?  I’m sorry to say, but I think our only option is to block, mute, ignore, skim on by, report it if it is truly heinous, and find your own tribe.  If bitching about the adaptation is your thing then go for it!  Find your own group of like-minded folks and bitch away, but if you don’t like being told what to think, what makes you think you have the right to tell someone else what to think? We don’t have to make the choice to get involved or put in our two cents. Some of the most effective ways I’ve seen folks deal with this stuff is to agree to disagree and …let it go!  It’s a big fandom and there is room to let folks just be themselves whether we like it or not.

I’ll admit that I still get mad at folks.  Just yesterday, I saw some fans discussing the fandom on Twitter. They are the “this fandom drives me crazy” and “I hate this fandom” folks who believe they are the only sane fans out there. The drift of the conversation was that they couldn’t believe that some of these fans were grown women because they acted like teenagers and they were tired of making excuses for them.  They knew fans had waited a long time to see the “books” on the screen, but the show isn’t perfect and neither are the books.  They then proceeded to explain why they didn’t like the show…because it wasn’t like the “books”.  It’s hypocrisy like this that makes me the most angry.  It is much easier for me to forgive a fan who gets carried away in passion than those who like to pretend they are above it all while they fawn on the stars and expound on their on cleverness and insight.  There is more than one way to be a fan.

Every-time I get angry at some hypocrisy or deliberate attempts to bait cast and creators, I try to remember that there is a multitude of fans who just want to enjoy the show and some for whom it has meant…something more important…and I often hear from them…

Stories make us feel and think. Stories have power. Stories move us, shape us, and do the same to the world.” What a powerful statement….and for me so true!!! This has been an extremely emotional morning for me, after watching the finale early Saturday morning alone, I came to the realization just how important DG’s books and finding this show has been for me. When I discovered the Outlander series I was in a very difficult place emotionally. I first heard about Outlander through a Starz commercial prior to the first season and had every intention of watching. But, as the saying goes, make plans and God laughs….In 2014 my husband was diagnosed with kidney failure, which launched a year long search for a kidney donor and his name being placed on a donor list. After a year, my son, who is not my husbands biological son, made a decision without discussion, to donate his kidney to my husband. He saved my husband’s life. It was a courageous and unselfish thing to do, and for me overwhelming, since both of my men would be on the operating table together, and would suffer the same risks. While this was a very successful transplant, it was nonetheless extremely traumatic for me. In order to be a care-giver and advocate, initially to both and eventually to only my husband, meant that my life had to be placed on hold. I built a wall that protected me emotionally… that wall went up….and never came down…. until…. I read Outlander & watched the show. I wonder if Diana Gabaldon knew when she wrote the Outlander series that she would have the power to change a persons life…but her story had power, and the actors who portrayed those characters and the writers who gave them a voice only enhanced that power. I found her spiritual references, poems, and the love she created between her characters absolutely moving, life-changing and refreshing. Which is why some of us wanted so badly for the adaptation to follow the books, absolutely. But, because RonDMoore had the courage and power to adapt for TV many scenes from the book, one in particular for me, the violation of Fergus, I was forever changed. He gave me power and courage to write on this blog, my experience as a victim. Thank you Beth for providing the safe place to have these discussions! And lets not forget DG’s historical references, which also lead me to trace two of my family lines..Cameron and Fraser….right to Scotland on the battlefields…incredible! I know there are many people who have had their life enhanced or changed by reading the books and viewing the show; just read all the various tweets & this blog. People sometimes laugh at us when we talk Outlander and about the greatness of this show; my husband is one of them, but he doesn’t realize that it saved me emotionally, brought me back to him, and really left an impression on my life. I hope the actors, Diana, Ron, Terry, and all the writers realize how many people have been touched by their creativity….it is absolutely incredible how a series of fictional books and a television show could have that much power, for so many people! It is also a reminder that true love conquers all things, and that love & communication are so important in a relationship. Thank you to all the Outlander cast & crew and especially to DG for writing such wonderful books that have touched me in so many ways. Finally, thank you Beth for utilizing your God given talent to touch us with your insight. You are the best at being able to put into words that prompt us to think and respond……. I am forever grateful……

GETTING OFF MY SOAPBOX

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Being a part of this fandom has brought a lot of wonderful things into my life including real-life friends! #cgng #bawdybabes  This fandom used to be a fun place.  And, I think it still can be. Mining is wrong.  Name calling is wrong. Vilifying people for not agreeing with you is wrong.  I once wrote a whole researched piece on this topic and realized I’d just be preaching to the choir and so, I put it in the trash.  Those who are perpetrators of the drama in this fandom won’t see themselves as such and so, weren’t likely to change their behavior just because I wrote about it.  But, there are a lot of folks out there who get caught up in the drama like my friend and I did and it’s you I’m speaking to.  Be slow to anger and find joy in this fandom again.  It’s there.  There are a lot of wonderful, interesting, talented, and generous people from all over the world in this fandom, “Find your way back to us”.

 

 

 

My answer to the Outlander adaptation question…Episode 2×13

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My first reaction after seeing episode 13 Dragonfly in Amber was to think of some of the book lovers’ reactions to the adaptation.  I could literally hear the disappointment.  Where was the scene where they cut their initials into each other’s flesh?  Where was that final night together? But, then almost simultaneously, I thought, “but… it’s such a great story”.  There is always an element of review in my reflections, but usually I find something in an episode that stood out or lingers in my mind and I reflect and expound.  This week it was the idea of telling a good story and adaptation.

I had a Twitter friend recently send me a private message that disputed the term adaptation in regards to Outlander.

 …Your piece this week makes me want to discuss something. The difference between an adaptation of a book and something based on a book and something inspired by a book. All points on a line. There is probably a legal distinction in the entertainment industry, but with regards to Outlander, at what point should they stop calling it an adaptation and start calling it based on. I read the description that Matt Roberts gave of an adaptation as a child and the book as the parent. I don’t know if that is a fair analogy. Wouldn’t that be more of a reimagining of a book rather than an adaptation? I would love to see you write a piece pondering this…

I guess this feels like the right time to ponder this topic and so, I started looking for answers.  As an avid fan of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander book series, I have struggled with this whole adaptation thing.  I will say over time my understanding and feelings toward the changes from book to screen have changed.  I have become more accepting and find myself looking forward to seeing those changes.  However, I am not without sympathy for those who still struggle and certainly believe as fans we have every right to discuss what we liked and didn’t like and what we thought worked and didn’t work.  Critique is good. Discussion is good. After doing a bit of lite research and thinking about the past two seasons of Outlander, my answer to my Twitter friends question is…yes. Outlander is an adaptation and a good one.

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THE STRUGGLE IS REAL

In my lite research, I read articles on writing scripts, story-telling, and adaptation of books to screen. The one thing they all seemed to have in common was the belief that nailing down what makes a story good is very difficult and even harder to put into concrete terms.  Every author I read, who attempted to list steps or describe a formula for creating a good story,  made sure to include a caveat that said following their formula certainly didn’t guarantee that your script would move from plot to great story. There is a certain intangibility that we all seem to recognize, but find hard to define.

One of those folks that tried to describe what makes a story good was Chuck Wendig, novelist, screenwriter, and game designer;

…A story is interesting. A story lets us see ourselves in it — and it is in that way both a unique snowflake and a universal precept. Or, more to the point, the story is the unique delivery system by which we get to talk about universal concepts and problems. We can talk about a THING WE ALL UNDERSTAND by framing it around a narrative unique to the author — every character and setting and conflict is a potential lens through which we can look upon this universal problem. Story takes this lens and it helps us to see old problems in new ways. Stories make us feel and think. Stories have power. Stories move us, shape us, and do the same to the world. It does this in the way that a song can do it. It has rhythm, like a song — slow to fast, up and down and then up again. Pause, leap, wait, then run. Stories are not a manicured garden. They’re an unruly forest –

A tangle of thorns in which we find ourselves happily ensnared.

… story is a hard thing to understand. Writers put words to paper, but storytellers take those words — or images, in the case of film and TV and comics — and spin that dross into candy floss. Writers make horses. Storytellers fucking make unicorns, man.

http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2016/06/07/what-exactly-makes-a-damn-good-story/comment-page-2/

In my readings, I found a lot of academic articles for scriptwriters that further the idea that certain elements can be found in good story-telling, but by far the most interesting and applicable article I read was an AV Club article written as a conversation between two film critics.  Tasha Robinson and Scott Tobias’ article What Makes a Good Film-to-Book Adaptation? is well worth the read for anyone still struggling to get a hold on the adaptation process and what makes for a good story for both book lovers and those who have never read the source material.  They used their take on the movie Hunger Games to discuss the issues with movies adapted from books. http://www.avclub.com/article/what-makes-a-good-book-to-film-adaptation-71545  They both reference each others’ reviews of the movie and one written by the NPR critic Linda Holmes. This article was so full of great points that I had a hard time picking out which ones to share!  The main idea however is that adaptations have certain responsibilities to fans of the source material, but that following a book too closely has its own pitfalls.

Holmes: Odd to think that some fans — certainly not all or even most, but some — might, for all their constant desire to see a faithful adaptation, leave the film feeling like they’ve seen the book almost exactly, as if they didn’t need to see it at all. To be honest, this is the sense I had, as someone who really enjoyed the books. I felt like the film was very good, but not strictly necessary, precisely because it seemed to be made from a bit of a defensive stance, where the biggest worry was making sure fans didn’t get mad. Other than the appearance of the residents of the Capitol, it’s not particularly visually inventive, and while it’s comforting to see that an adaptation has respected the imagery of the book, in most cases, it’s faithful to the point of not adding anything you haven’t seen in your head when you read the book. The adaptation, in that sense, is skilled but not quite as special as it might have been.  http://www.npr.org/sections/monkeysee/2012/03/22/149145605/what-fans-will-love-and-what-they-might-not-in-the-hunger-games

Robinson: …One of your main points in that review was that the film hewed too closely to the book. You called it “stenography in light,” and said when a book-to-film adaptation sets out to be faithful to the source material, “the best result is a skillful abridgment.” Most painfully to me, you said this: “A book is a book and a movie is a movie, and whenever the latter merely sets about illustrating the former, it’s a failure of adaptation, to say nothing of imagination.”

Few things get me as tetchy as a film adaptation of an excellent book that doesn’t trust the material, and alters it to be more conventional and banal (like the ending of Breakfast At Tiffany’s, for instance), or alternately, more lurid and prurient (like the violence in Watchmen). All too often, it seems like even the biggest bestsellers are deemed not commercial enough in content

Tobias: …if book-to-film adaptations can fail by being too faithful or by being not faithful enough, what’s left?…doing right by a great book and being faithful to it are, to my mind, two separate issues. Skillful as it is, The Hunger Games suffers from all the pitfalls of faithfulness that I noted in my review and Linda Holmes addressed above: It hits all the expected plot points from a novel that offers a straightforward cinematic blueprint, but it feels thinned-out as a result…What I want is not faithfulness, but an active engagement with the material, which doesn’t have to preclude faithfulness…The question filmmakers should ask is not, “How can I bring this story to the screen without losing anything?,” but “What in this book do I want to emphasize?” If you’re reading a book, I think it’s natural to home in on themes, characters, and scenes that are most meaningful to you, but a good adaptation has to make choices about what’s truly important. And it also has to exist independently from the novel…

Robinson: …Going from a derivative work to its source, people tend to expect fidelity less than when they start with the original, then move to the adaptation…When I read the book first, I go to the movie expecting to see a strict translation of what I saw onto the screen, even if that’s not truly what I want, or what best serves the story. Whereas when I see the movie first, I go to the book looking not for the same story, but for a greater insight into the characters…

…Both book and film should be addressed as independent entities. …This means not going into an adaptation with a mental checklist of things that must be in the movie to make it good, and evaluating a film based on what’s on the screen, not what got left off. In that sense, a “good adaptation” may have to involve a good-faith effort from the viewers, who participate in the process by giving that story a chance on its own terms… But it takes two to tango. If viewers have a responsibility not to see a book as an unalterable outline for the film, then filmmakers have a responsibility to respect the book, to acknowledge that there’s a reason they’re telling this story, rather than another story altogether… Filmmakers should ask “What in this book do I want to emphasize?” The key words are “in this book.” Meaning, part of a good adaptation is knowing what to cut or revise, even if it makes the fans cry, but part of it is maintaining a meaningful relationship to the source material.

As you can see this is a great conversation that examines this issue from several perspectives.  I measured Outlander against the “standards” based on what I had learned about good adaptation.

 

WHY I THINK THIS WAS A GOOD ADAPTATIONOutlander-Season-2-First-Look-outlander-2014-tv-series-39185899-1280-640

  • There is an overall theme not just a checklist of plot points from the books: a man and woman from vastly different backgrounds keeping their own integrity while caring about what is really important in life, providing for and protecting what is important; God, Family, Country and above all else love.
  • They knew why they were adapting THIS story : Ron, Maril, Matt, and Starz all knew why they wanted to tell this story.  They picked Outlander, they could have picked a show to produce with male-centric themes and familiar plots.  Instead, they chose to tell a different kind of story.  A story that was genre-bending and complex with a female protagonist.

“Diana has created an incredibly compelling heroine, thrust into a very complex world, not to mention, time.  The books weave a fascinating tapestry of history, spirituality, love and honor, not to mention plenty of time travel, sex and warfare.  With Diana’s stories guiding us and Ron’s mastery, we hope to bring Claire and Jamie to life for the millions of fans the world over.” Chris Albrecht, CEO Starz

  • It was a great mix of nods to the book readers and yet it was novel enough to give us all surprises. In this episode particularly, I was struck with how like Diana’s books the season was; everything and everyone they wrote had a role to play and everything got connected.  I loved the little bits of Jamie we saw in Brianna, “I don’t understand, but I believe you…Only the truth between us”, Gellis’ question “Why are you here?” and Roger’s “fucking barbecue”, and everything that happened when Claire visited Lallybroch including a lovely nod to the book lovers with the “thousand kisses’ poem, just to name a few.
  • They told an honest story about life’s truths.  My God, when I think about what they weren’t afraid to show us!  I didn’t always agree (the rape of Fergus), but I will defend their choices because no one can make me believe that the same group of people who took their time showing the aftermath of Jamie’s trauma and Claire’s loss of her child did not think carefully about every part of this story and how to show it to us. We witnessed amazing award worthy performances and ground-breaking TV.
  • The characters were interesting people who evolved. They took their time and let us watch these characters struggle and grow. The TV version of Jamie is more relatable, less funny IMHO, but less perfect. He was still being portrayed as a young man with “nice feelings” , emotional intelligence, a man who thinks on his feet.  However, he was also allowed to fumble a bit (Lallybroch comes to mind) just like any young man in his situation would.  He ISN’T perfect, but true to Jamie form he always gets it right in the end.  He is a wonderful example of what it means to be a man and that includes owning up when you’ve made a mistake and not being afraid to try a new way of thinking.  Those things I truly loved about book Jamie are still there loyalty, integrity, bravery, sensitivity, vulnerability, and the ability to love unselfishly.  How often have you seen a man portrayed like that on TV?  And Claire? Has a woman portrayed on TV ever been allowed to be as one critic said “a true superhero” ?  Claire has always made me proud to be a woman and TV Claire has just reinforced that I was right to feel this way.  The show has managed to show the world that a woman can be all things; strong , smart, compassionate, sexually confident, gentle, loving, and fiercely protective of those she loves.  “Remind me not to get on your bad side Sassenach”.  She hasn’t been portrayed as perfect either. Tell the truth, how many of you wanted to reach through the screen and shake her for not keeping her mouth shut! They even let Black Jack seem human at times which challenged our thinking.
  • It was a roller-coaster ride of conflicts and feelings.  At times, I worried that there wasn’t enough time between the shit-storms this couple constantly faced.  But, they kept us wondering how Jamie and Claire would find a way back to each other after all the myriad of crises and tragedies a marriage can face.
  • They suspended our disbelief and helped us believe this world and this story were real despite its fantastical nature.  This show was a wonder; a visual feast set to music, Paris and Scotland. The love, creativity, and talent that this show was created with continues to stagger.

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IMHO they did the things good adaptations do. They kept it their own vision while honoring the source material for book lovers.  They told a whole story not just the love story, but they did tell the love story too.  As Chuck Wendig said, “Story is all the stuff. All the fibrous material and intangible air surrounding the fiddly bits. The story is the whole beast. It’s the whole animal. And you have to use the whole animal”. They showed us the whole human story contained in  Outlander. They didn’t show us a horse, they showed us a “fucking unicorn”.

 

 

 

Marathons, Fan Art, and Adaptation…A look ahead to Outlander episode 2×13

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The new Outlandish Anticipation post is up!

Outlander Online

Beth-TopperI feel so out of the loop!  So, much has happened since the last time I wrote anything about Outlander!  Forgive me if I seem a bit uninformed, but there is no way I could get caught up.  I just got a chance to see my DVR’d episode 2×12 The Hail Mary this Sunday.  I’d do a review, but I’m pretty sure it was covered in a timely manner.  I haven’t read any recaps or reviews, but it has been pretty hard to avoid comments on social media the few times I’ve been on.  Sex or lack there of seems to be the topic of conversation. My guess is the conversation is surrounding the entire season rather than this last episode.  The perception is that fans have somehow been cheated and that the core of the story of  Jamie and Claire’s relationship diminished.  One of the comments I saw said…

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The Hail Mary…A Look Ahead to Outlander Episode 2×12

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New Outlandish Anticipation post!

Outlander Online

Beth-Topper

“Hail Mary, Coach Wesson! Throw a Hail Mary!” was the cry of one of the fans in the stands at my husband’s football games.  He coached for over thirty years and I heard a lot of things yelled at him from the stands, but the memory of that phrase lingers for a couple of reasons.  First, the lady that yelled it at every game was a great character and it was always yelled with such fervor and good intent. The second reason was my husband’s reaction to her yelling at him to throw a “Hail Mary”.  He would just smile and shake his head, No.

Read more after the jump!

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“I was a bit short of breadcrumbs”… a reflection on Outlander Episode 11

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This was one of those weekends when real life interfered with my Outlander life.  Stuff happens.  Puppies jump out of granddaughters arms,

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husbands go on vacation and want to spend time with you…

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granddaughters want to paint their bedroom suites and the same puppy who broke its leg eats paint…

I had a birthday trip to the zoo with all my grands…

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and my traditional cake made out of watermelon ( this year it had minions on it !)

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Things calmed down at about midnight last night and I was too tired to watch Outlander….shocking I know…but it happens. So, here I am Sunday morning watching and writing.

DIANA GABALDON SCRIPTWRITER

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Congrats to Diana!  It was great, but I didn’t expect her to do less!  I love that I am starting to “hear” the writers voice in these episodes.  Her episode was a great example of this.  It definitely blended with the other episodes, but like the others it also had the writers’ own special touch.  Diana’s sense of humor came out to play and her love of dialogue and her genuine affection for these characters was a joy to watch. I loved seeing how she picked up the adaptation ball and played.  The book plot was condensed and altered, but very plausible and cohesive.  Jamie’s prayer over a sleeping Claire was worth the whole episode. It was over all too soon.

BREAD CRUMBS

 

Last season, some where around mid point, I started to let go of my book expectations and enjoy the adaptation. I started to get it.  Matt Roberts helped me with that.  He explained that the adaptation was much like a child.  You can see the parent in its countenance, but even if the child is very much like the parent, it isn’t the parent it is its own “person”. So, I started to relax and enjoy the series for what it was.  I have found, however,that this season taught me more lessons on the nature of adaptions.  This season has taught me more about pacing and story arcs and character development.  I’ve learned that sometimes as fans, we have to wait and…trust.  There truly is a reason for the choices the writers make and they are lovingly trying to make the best show they can for book lovers and TV only audiences. They are all doing honor to Diana’s story and characters.

At times this season, my knowledge of the books continued to interfere with my enjoyment of the show and yet, at times it enhanced it.  I’m sort of ambivalent about the advantages or disadvantages. However, as time goes on, I am getting much better at separating the two and being okay if things are different.  I used to be able to speculate about what we were going to see in the next episodes.  Quite frankly, I really can’t anymore, especially not in these battles scenes.  Each week I excitedly wait to see what is going to happen to the highlanders. This is one of those times that the visual medium has definitely increased my enjoyment of the story. In fact, I’m delighted to find I’m enjoying not knowing what they are going to do.

One of my favorite lines in this episode was Claire saying she was a bit short on bread crumbs. She has given herself over to the British in a self-sacrificing gesture that cements her as a Scot and the lady of Broch Tuarach. I actually felt a lump in my throat when she asked if she was not the lady and responsible for the men as well. But, it was the bread crumbs line that has stuck with me because of what it represents for the way this story has been told and particularly in this episode. I would say, ” you might be a bit short of breadcrumbs Claire, but the series isn’t”.  They have been foreshadowing and getting us ready for the end since the beginning by leaving us a trail of breadcrumbs to follow. Early in the season, I wrote about what I saw as an emerging theme for this season.

In one of the trailer’s for the show, Jamie is heard saying “Promise me we will always find a way back to each other.”   https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=outlander+season+2+trailer&view=detail&mid=8A665D9CF8C926D232878A665D9CF8C926D23287&FORM=VIRE

I’m beginning to suspect that this is a metaphor for the whole season.  Isn’t it always about finding your way back to each other in a marriage?   It doesn’t have to be getting carried through the stones or PTSD; it can be something as mundane as a career or as challenging as raising children that causes a couple to lose touch with each other, grow distant, and lose intimacy.  Ask any married couple if they did not struggle to maintain their identity as a couple through different phases and events in life.  It pains us to see our ideal couple estranged.  We want to luxuriate in their obvious love for one another. However, I can’t help but believe that this more realistic portrayal of a relationship makes this MORE about what the books were about, not less.

Over and over again, we are reminded that this isn’t going to end well and that Jamie and Claire will be separated.  They have also taken great pains to remind us that they always find a way back to each other. Without that reminder, I’m not sure we would make it through another Droughtlander.  This is going to be much worse than Jamie hanging out on the window-ledge.  In this particular episode, Diana and Ron let us see Jamie preparing himself for the worst, having to send Claire back.  I think that is what the watching her sleep and praying over her was about and I couldn’t help, but make connections to real-life.  I thought of soldiers, divorcing parents, or the terminally ill who know their time is limited. I pictured them staring at a child while they sleep and speaking all of their love and dreams for them and memorizing their features and burning the images into their heart.  It is what you would do if you were afraid you would soon never see a love one again. Poor Jamie this isn’t the first time he has to face this , the stones after the witch trial, Wentworth, the Abbey.  A future with Claire ever seems to be tenuous thing.  They have fought so hard to come back to each other time and time again and yet, he must feel every moment with her might be his last.

Despite his preparing himself, the episode also gave us a few glimpses into how difficult it truly will be when the moment to say goodbye comes .  Jamie certainly isn’t ready to let her go.  I felt Sam’s portrayal of Jamie giving in to Claire’s plan to give herself over to the British was that reminder. Never, he’ll never give her up. His reluctance to give her over to Dougal’s arms, his grabbing her back for a second, his struggle not to show how worried he was, were very moving and foreshadowed how devastated he will be when he does let her go.  I loved how through out the episode they showed the couple constantly coming back together physically even when they have only been apart for a short while.  I think Diana once said ,”like two halves of a clam shell coming back together”. And, Murtaugh …asking if Jamie ever counted the cost of marrying Claire?  Despite all her love has cost, he would have it no other way. Breadcrumbs.

I know there has been some grumbling about the lack of sex in this season.  Some have even suggested that they EW cover was false advertising! It was definitely a striking image, but it certainly wasn’t the “Wild Sexy World” of Outlander they were advertising.  No, instead, they gave us thought-provoking and moving scenes of a couple’s struggles to hang on to their love through some of the many things that can befall a marriage. In my opinion, brave and meaningful TV with Emmy worthy performances.  Every time, I would start to worry that maybe the series had missed the mark or changed a character or story arch too much, they would prove me wrong.  The intimacy is there. This couple has earned their relationship.  This couple is bearing their losses together and the relationship is the stronger for it.  The intimacy that will make Claire’s screams of anguish at the stones real isn’t found only in their bed, but in her soul through all their shared moments both good and bad. We got a little taste of what it will be like when they are ripped from each others arms and I dread and yet look forward to seeing how they will portray it.  My suspicion is that we haven’t seen a lot of sex because they are creating space around Jamie and Claire’s final night together.  We haven’t been given a lot of sex between the couple because they want to make those moments more meaningful and that joining poignantly special.  A night in each other’s arms to last forever….