The Writer Games

In front of a live audience, write until you drop dead. The last one writing gets a book deal.

What do you think?

Have you read The Hunger Games? I don’t want to link to it lest I end up with too many people over here. Seriously.

I haven’t read it or seen the film. I’ve decided to read the books, but doubt I’ll see the movie. The idea of the story is depressing enough without adding visuals.

Anyway, I don’t know why I care, but there is this argument going around the Internet that I find annoying. A friend of mine recently stated that he wasn’t going to see The Hunger Games because it was a copy of Battle Royale. Copied? Was it? Well, I had to know more about that. We (as in we writers) try so hard to be original, it is maddening to see someone copy and end up with a best seller.

So I search for reviews, interviews, and whatever else. But after reading several pieces about the stories, I have to say I don’t believe Suzanne Collins copied the Japanese movie. If you disagree, please keep insults to yourself.

But I find I’m really, really irritated about this whole brouhaha over nothing.

I’ve seen comments that go something like this, “I haven’t read The Hunger Games, but I’ve heard it’s a rip off of Battle Royale, so I’m not going to.” Yes, letting hearsay form your opinions is always a good idea.

And this, “Battle Royale came out ten years ago–before The Hunger Games.” Okay. Valid observation. But Collins says she never heard of Battle Royale. Is she lying? One friend said, “People will say anything for fame and money.” Sure. But Collins dislikes media attention and there’s nothing about her lifestyle to indicate she’s all about the money. And not to point out the obvious, but if you’re all about money, writing a YA novel may not be the best choice. And I don’t call people liars without proof.

And until the other day I hadn’t even heard of Battle Royale. Well, it’s Japanese and had a limited release here in the States. I’m not sure why people assume Collins has heard of it. It’s not exactly like she’s said she didn’t know they’d made a movie of Titanic.

I also fail to see what is so amazingly unique about Battle Royale that someone else couldn’t come up with a similar idea all on her own. Am I to believe that in the whole of the world and history, only one person can come up with the idea of young people killing each other for sport? Anyone with a passing knowledge of Greek myth, Lord of the Flies, and reality TV would have a chance of imagining just such a plot. People come up with similar story ideas every single day. Anyone who writes should know this. You write something, and then–presto!–you come across something that is basically your idea. Was it stolen? No. I guess, it’s unfortunate Joseph Campbell isn’t around to ask about myth and collective storytelling.

And finally, am I to agree that only one version of any story can exist? If that is the case, then a lot of people better put down their pens. Battle Royale has a male lead (from what I’ve read about the plot). It is Japanese. So that’s it? No one else can tell their perspective on such a story? You know what, Romeo and Juliet has been written, so please, no more star-crossed romances. What else. Oh, no more stories aliens invading earth. No more assassination stories. No more war stories. No more man vs nature stories. Sorry. Been done. We should have a Only-One Rule. That would save us all a lot of trouble.

Have you ever known anyone who loves a particular band until that bands gets popular. Suddenly they don’t like that band anymore. They accuse the band of selling out. Or they look down at those Johnny-come-latelies as not real fans. Some smug nonsense in that. I hear a similar tone in some comments–they’re so cool as to know Battle Royale before the rabble, anything else pales in comparison. I’ve seen a few comments by people who love BR and are angry that only is it getting more distribution here in the States. Can they be pleased that THG has given their film some attention? No.

You could also read this post about the whole kerfuffle. I found it level-headed.

I’ve been trying to understand why this issue bothers me so much when I’ve no vested interest in either. Maybe I’m worried (hopeful!) it could be me. Maybe the novel sitting in my hard drive has already been done and I don’t know it. I’d like not to be raked across coals by people who don’t know anything about my work or me.

What sort of literary ruckus do you care about?

Where Every Man Has Gone Before

My 8-year-old son has taken an interest in the original Star Trek series. I loved it when I was a kid, and while usually the kiddo professes to dislike any television I like (i.e. Doctor Who), he will ask to watch this show from the late 1960s.

This evening we watched the episode Mudd’s Women, and when the women in question beamed aboard the ship, I said rather offhandedly while struggling with gift wrap, “Here comes trouble.”

My son asked, “What do you mean?”

I thought about an answer while my son watched the men of the Enterprise watch the women walk across the room.

“Oh,” my son said. “I think I know what you mean.”

“You do?”

“They’re going to distract the men, aren’t they?”

“Well, yes. Yes, they are.”

Kids. Not as oblivious as you think–or as you wish.

Fastest-to-Fast

A while ago a woman told me that she thought roller derby was bad for women. “Men knock each other down. Women are supposed to support each other.”

Hmmm.

Well, I don’t do derby. But I’ve met a lot of derby girls over the last few months, and most of them–like most people–are supportive of one another.

I skate speed.

Refreshing things about quad speed skating–Daintiness and fragility need not show up. Competition is about winning a race, not about getting a man’s attention. Excessive politeness is a waste of time. Don’t say “sorry.” Even tonight I practice I said sorry to a woman when I had trouble slowing down in the line and had to put my hand on her back. She laughed. “No sorry,” she said.

I said sorry again.

And we both laughed. “Stop that!” she said.

Saying sorry in life is a wonderful thing in the right situation, but women say this far too often and for things they aren’t responsible for.

The hardest thing for me is the fastest-to-fast line. You get in order of your speed–just like it sounds. Fastest skater in front and so on. This requires you have a good grasp on your ability and that you don’t feel bad if you get better than your friend and move up. You don’t let someone in the line in front of you to make them feel good about themselves. And you can’t fake modesty or doubt and put yourself too far back. Really? Me? I’m going to put myself in place where I’m basically saying, “I’m faster than you.”

And if you’re wrong, it will quickly become clear.

And D– will yell at you.

The other day the line was beginning and D– looked at me. “Are you sure that’s where you should be?” she asked.

“Um, I don’t know,” I said. In truth, I thought I’d gotten a tiny bit faster than the woman ahead of me, but I wasn’t comfortable asserting myself.

The next practice I moved up a place in the line, and no one questioned me.

I have a similar problem in writing. It is still hard to say, “I’m a writer.” That sounds so ridiculous. And then to say, “Read my work” seems crazy. Rude. Egomaniacal.

Part of me must think a bit of that though or I wouldn’t be writing and talking about it in the first place.

Also, I think it is okay for women to take part in a sport where we knock each other down. It isn’t the end of civilized society.