THE MAGIC OF STORYTELLING

Before there were movies, there were books; before there were books, there were storytellers. Each, while very different in format, accomplishes the same thing: they transport us away from our daily reality. They take us to the past, to the future, to other worlds. They introduce us to people we don’t know, some we grow to love, others to hate, some to even fear, especially as children.

In today’s entertainment world, books and movies are often tied tightly together. Just consider the Lord of the Rings trilogy or the more recent Hunger Games. I know, speaking as a writer, when I write I often feel as if I am merely writing what I see from a movie screen in my mind. I don’t know how common that is among writers, but it’s always been that way with me. I’m not a huge movie-goer, but I see several a year. My favorites are the ones that transport you during the time you are sitting in that chair, washing away your daily worries, allowing an escape. And isn’t that really why we go to movies? To escape? It’s the same with books.

As adults, we often lament that we cannot live our lives backwards so that we could have chosen a career that was more fulfilling than the one we have (career as in how you make a living). It’s often not until we’re older (beyond college age) that we discover our passions. I know I would be a writer, no matter what, but there is a big part of me that wishes I could have found my place in the movie business. Not as an actress (good Lord, no; LOL), but in some other capacity, perhaps not even necessarily writing. The whole creative process of movies enthralls me, from cinematography to sound engineering to special effects, etc. Of course, back in my younger years Hollywood was even more of an “ol’ boys” club than it is now, so the deck would have been stacked. But I still like to think of it.

But besides the technical side of movies, what makes a movie memorable are the elements of story and character, just as in novels. When we think of movies that are cultural phenomenons, like the Star Wars movies, for example, we don’t think about what type of lense was used to film the movie or the lighting or the special effects. What we truly remember are the characters, even more so than the story. There are many, many movies with big budget effects, but only the ones with characters we grew to love are the ones we remember and watch over and over again.

The movie I saw today was “The Dark Knight Rises.” And while I’m sure there were a great many people in the audience who went there just for the big-budget action sequences, I think a great many of those people were there because they’ve come to enjoy the variety of characters in the movie. Speaking for myself, the Batman/Bruce Wayne character is my least favorite character (though, of course, I do like the character). I was more concerned with the secondary characters like Gordon and Fox and Alfred; were they going to survive the story?

Sure, I’m not going to lie and say I don’t care if The Prodigal is ever adapted to the silver screen (though I did adapt it to screenplay format before I ever sold it to my publisher). Perhaps its story is simply destined for paper and e-book. But if it ever makes it to Hollywood, I would hope that somewhere, someday in a darkened theater there will be a young person whose future career is still yet to be discovered who will watch the movie and be inspired to a life of creativity, so that others may enjoy–either through book or movie–those brief, shining moments of escape that we all need.

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