What I'm reading: Fatally Flaky, by Diane Mott Davidson
Hope everyone had a great holiday. And congrats to Betina Krahn's winners. Please make sure you email her so you can get your prizes.
I'm a guest at Writers on Writing, talking about my writing process. Hope you'll drop by there, too.
I was unplugged for a lot of the weekend. Not by choice, but there was trouble with Twitter feeds, and more trouble with Blogger. As I type this, I'm hoping that one's resolved. If you're reading it, I guess it was.. I can't say I was particularly frustrated about missing out on everyone's holiday Tweets, but I did miss my blog crawls, and wasn't pleased that I couldn't respond to comments on my own blog. I wonder if this was a widespread problem, or something more local. Update - as of Sunday evening, Brighthouse finally admitted there was a problem, and they were 'working to fix it.'
Seeing Sherlock Holmes Friday gave me something to think about. I'm very much a character person. Give me a character I love and I'll forgive mediocre writing. But give me a mediocre character and the most brilliant writing isn't going to do it for me. I know there are those who have their own reasons for going to the movies, and a good-looking star is right up there. But for this post, I'm trying to look beyond the outward appearance of Robert Downey, Jr. Judging from Tweets and Facebook posts, I'm in the minority when I say I wasn't totally in love with the movie. I'm not saying it wasn't good, or that I didn't like it but....
I hadn't paid any attention to previews or trailers for the new Sherlock Holmes movie. Hubby had picked it as our Christmas movie weeks in advance, and being a Sherlock Holmes fan since I discovered him in a high school reading assignment, "The Adventure of the Speckled Band," and having watched the Basil Rathbone version on Netflix, and all the PBS variations, I gladly agreed, and went to the movie "cold."
(Minor digression to another reason we like Netflix. No need to sit through over 20 minutes of previews. The movie was scheduled to begin at 11:30. We arrived at 11:20, since it was the first show of the day and we had bought our tickets on line. We sat through ten minutes of commercials, and then the "movie" began. NOT. Preview after preview – long ones. The sort that make you think you've just seen all the good parts of the movie. Thank goodness I've learned to carry my trusty back-lit eBookwise)
Having read all of Sherlock Holmes, and having seen numerous television adaptations, I was a bit put off by the movie's "tampering" with characters I thought I knew. The pipe was wrong, no deerstalker. Sure, Robert Downey Jr was easy on the eyes. And according to Doyle, Holmes was fit—he boxed, and could handle a sword, as I recall. But the image still didn't ring true. I never saw Holmes as the action-adventure hero. A Victorian James Bond flick would have been almost the same. "Holmes. Sherlock Holmes."
Watson was probably more against "type", but I liked seeing him as much more sure of himself, and ready to confront Holmes. True to character, however, he was never fully able to resist what Holmes wanted him to do.
I got started writing in the fan fiction realm. I had many a beta-reader tell me "Duncan would NEVER do that." Readers have character expectations. If they deviate, there had better be a good reason.
The time in the movie spent on fights, chases, and Bond-type special effects didn't seem true to his character. One wonders how much Doyle the moviemakers actually read. Then again, movies made from books rarely ring true to the original beyond the title. But to me, this was a way to appeal to the younger set who probably has never read a Holmes story.
All in all, it was a moderately enjoyable movie. Definitely glad we went to the early, $5 show. A bit long, and probably because I saw little need for the extended "James Bond" marital arts/action/chase scenes. To me, it felt more like an author inserting scenes to meet some minimum word count requirement. Most of those scenes could have been cut by at least half.
And, as I spent much of the last few days further refining the final chapters of my manuscript, I couldn't help but compare the way Holmes resolved the mystery with the way I was trying to make sure I had all the loose ends tied up in mine.
In typical Doyle/Holmes fashion, Holmes merely "tells" how he deduced all the bits and pieces of the mystery. I would have preferred some of these discoveries to have been revealed as Holmes made them, as the film clearly showed Holmes zeroing in on the requisite clues. But the explanations had to wait until the bad guy was dealt with.
The other off-putting bit in the movie was the magic/supernatural theme. That seemed to be milking the current trend rather than sticking to Holmes canon. Granted, I expected Holmes to explain it all, but as above, didn't like that it all waited until the final few minutes of the movie.
There's a saying in writing that your first page sells the book, but your last page sells the NEXT book. This movie was a perfect example. It definitely left the door open for a sequel. Wide open. Almost dragging the viewer through it.
And, while looking for some images for this post, I happened across a reviewer who felt pretty much the same way I did.
Tomorrow, Blogger willing, my final guest of 2009 is author Tory Richards. Her topic: Adventure. And she has a commenter contest, so make time to stop by.