June 10, 2012

Lessons from John Carter: ROW80 Update

This post is coming in at the last minute. The girls and I are in Duck, North Carolina until Wednesday evening enjoying family and quality time. The next two days of posts are written, and I am going to take a few days to rejuvenate my muse.

That is my one goal for the next few days (okay, I might slip in some social media catch up time and some reading). Three months of blogging challenges, wrapping up school for three kids, and handling medical and other dramas left me drained and mentally exhausted. I am ready to make a comeback on the writing front, but I need to shake off the stress first.

I wrote my own prescription... family beach trip. Mom, Dad, my two sisters, and my five nieces. This is my first time meeting the youngest niece (who will be five months old on 6/17). It's the most beautiful chaos I've had in months.

So what does this have to do with John Carter? We all sat down to watch the movie, the little ones already asleep. I wondered why it tanked at the box office, especially with all the hype. I wonder no more.

Story Lessons from John Carter

Eye Candy Will Only Get You So Far
Taylor Kitsch. Gorgeous, yet he was not enough to make this movie memorable. I always hear that agents want to represent a marketable book. Too often, authors write according to their perceived notion of marketability. All the marketability markers were there for this movie, but it still failed.

Write Your Story (Don't Retell Someone Else's)
Edgar Rice Burroughs created the John Carter character through a series of books. He also created Tarzan. Many authors site him as an early influence, particularly in science fiction. Yet the movie was jumbled, unable to elevate from interesting concept to great movie. Whoever was behind this movie couldn't bring to life well-written characters and story. Maybe it simply wasn't their passion.

As authors, we should write the stories we believe in. No matter how popular vampires are right now, we can't all write paranormal. Do you love to write Chick Lit? Some people hate it. Write it anyway. Readers will come if the story is well done and the characters are memorable.

Interesting Note (from Wikipedia): In 1923 Burroughs set up his own company, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc., and began printing his own books through the 1930s. (An author before his time, hmmm.)

Don't Judge a Piece by Its Popularity
This is a lesson John Carter exemplifies, but one I've always believe in. Usually the more hyped the book or movie, the less I end up liking it. Oscar nominated movies rarely end up as my favorites, but sometimes the most panned ones will. Same with books. The less expectation, the more I can have a true reaction. Odds are, this movie couldn't live up to the hype, even if it was better.

I love GoodReads and reading reviews, but as readers we have to trust our guts sometimes and take a chance.

Listen to Beta Readers
Supposedly this movie didn't do well with test audiences. It's never too late to make changes and improve story. That's not to say it's easy. Put what you think is your final draft in the hands of trustworthy readers so your actual final draft is even better.

Did you see John Carter? Will you?

I'm looking forward to catching up on my A Round of Words in 80 Days friends and continuing to make new connections through the Author Blog Challenge.

I will resume writing on my two novels next Thursday, and I hope the break will inspire my muse to come out swinging.


Jo Michaels said...

Exactly. Just write it. No matter what IT is. Well said! WRITE ON!

Em said...

Duck is an amazing name for a place! And beautiful chaos....I love that phrase!

Love your prescription and hope you have a wonderful time.

ps.I could hear your cheers, thank you!

bookworm said...

No, I didn't see the John Carter movie and I am glad I trusted my instincts. Edgar Rice Burroughs was one of my early writing influences, when I was a pre-teen. I bought all of the Barsoom series, most of the Tarzan books, plus read all of the Venus series, and a couple of other assorted books of his. I didn't know he was a self-publishing pioneer, though. To borrow Jo Michael's phrase, WRITE ON!

Tia Bach said...

Jo, I agree. No words can come unless you write.

Em, You are more than welcome, and beautiful chaos is the only kind I like. ;-)

Alana, I loved when I saw he had his own publishing company. Now I'm determined to read his stuff.

Thanks for all the comment love!