When is a story More than itself? This question intrigues me. CAN a story be More than itself? I think so. A story is always More when someone reads it, since the author and the reader are collaborating to make meaning, but I find it very intriguing to experience a story through more than one medium. That’s a whole new kind of More.
In early January, I went to see CATCHING FIRE, the second installment of the HUNGER GAMES trilogy. Let it be known: I do NOT like these books. Too bleak, too sad, too much negativity (I’ve never been a fan of dystopia, though). But, I have to grudgingly admit, I like the movies. A lot. Because the movies make the story More.
I don’t like Book Katniss. She’s cold and harsh (understandably so), and really mean to Peeta. But I like Movie Katniss–she grows and changes, and she can see what she’s doing to Peeta. When you add sensory dimensions (people, emotions, sights, sounds) to the images on the page, you increase the empathy factor about a thousandfold, and the fact that the HUNGER GAMES movies are wildly visual makes things even better. Dare I say I’m glad Suzanne Collins wrote the books, just so the movies could be made? As an author, I cringe at that statement. But at the same time, if someone ever made a movie about Gabe or Morgan, the story (in my opinion) could become More, because of the sights/sounds that the filmmaker would add to what already exists.
(This is not to say that movies *always* make books More. Very often, movies of books are sucky, and reduce the impact of the story (making a story Less, I’d say)).
ORIGINAL FAKE, the novel I wrote last year, is an illustrated YA novel, and the illustrations make the story More. To me, that was the coolest part of working with my illustrator, Erik Johnson. I’d write a scene or a character description, and Erik would draw what he saw, with his own ideas about the story and his thoughts about what readers did (and didn’t) need in a drawing. It’s the wildest thing ever, to literally see your story. I love it immensely. And, in my opinion, the story is now More. It’s also not just mine anymore—it’s Erik’s story, too.
Two others stories-made-More that I love: the films for both FIGHT CLUB and ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST. Both are excellent books, but the films add layers of meaning that enhance the books. What about for you? What are your experiences of stories that are More? Maybe films, maybe graphic novels, maybe TV? Please share with us.