When it comes to adaptions, there are many routes one can take. Everyone who reads a story, takes something different out of it. There are multiple perspectives a reader can have on a tale, much like a writer can present multiple perspectives to the audience. The interesting part about Picoult’s books, is that there is never just one narrator. There are multiple narrators. In My Sister’s Keeper, we have around seven narrators. Their lives are intertwined, but each has a unique voice. This allows readers to gain insight into each of the character’s minds. Seger mentions a narrator can move in and out of a character’s life, even going inside a character’s head, to let the reader know what he or she is feeling or thinking. However, films have trouble doing this. Films gives us an objective observer of actions. She writes: “Film doesn’t give us an interior look at a character. A novel does” (20).
However, it is harder to convey different points of view in film. Seger writes: “A film, like a novel, also presents a point of view, but to determine whose point of view the screenwriter asks different questions than the novelist. The screenwriter asks, ‘to what extent do I focus only on one character’s world, thereby only showing scenes that contain that particular character'” (26)? The same issues are also present in a blox – what points of view should I focus on when it comes to adapting the literary work to something visual? What elements of the narrative should I include? There are so many different story lines coexisting, how can I separate these and yet show their interconnectedness?
I think, it has to do with the common thread connecting them all – Kate. Here we have what Seger would call our “story arc” – Kate’s illness. Because of this illness, we have a story. Seger considers the story arc the story spine. She writes: “All the events within the story arc are connected to the objective and bring us closer to the climax” (91). And because of this one story, we have multiple stories stemming off of it. It is difficult to separate the story lines, but maybe that is the point. Maybe, what is more important, is that these stories can’t really be disconnected. Instead, in order to adapt, we must focus on how they are connected and why and what this means. In this case, the conflict is that Anna wants to be emancipated from this connection, and yet finds it difficult to do so. The family cannot help but feel the actions and consequences of everyone else. In order to adapt, this idea of interconnectedness, multiples points of view and perspectives, must be captured.
As I was thinking about visibility, I remembered flipping through my New Yorker magazine earlier this morning. At the back of the magazine, they present the reader with a cartoon and then urge the readers to think of the best caption for this picture. They call it the “Cartoon Caption Contest.” This is interesting, because in this case, there is the assumption that visual image came first. However, there is also this idea that the picture was created with a set phrase of words in mind, and the closest the entries come to this, influences their chances of winning. Or, maybe it is about creating words that, afterwards, when looked it, make a whole lot of sense in relation to the picture. The words you choose require a heightened sense and understanding of visibility to truly capture the image. Word choice further emphasizes an idea, an image. Words can make something more visual.
Another analogy of the idea of visibility can be seen in the movie Stranger than Fiction. This movie is about an author writing a story, and how the character comes to life, and starts to take on a life of his own. There is this question of whether author is creating words that the character follows or if the character is an image that takes on his own life and influences the words the writer creates. As an audience watching this movie, we are presented with somewhat simultaneous cues of author writing and the image of character acting. We can hear the author narrating, and at the same time, we see the character partaking in related behaviors. Much like in the E-lit piece, the audience has to decide which to follow first – verbal cues, or visual ones? They must also decide which is more salient and how the two interact.
This idea of meta-fiction present in Stranger than Fiction, I think, applies to the idea of visibility. When an author is aware that he or she is writing to an audience, and the audience is aware of this awareness, then the idea of word meaning and image construction becomes a focus of attention. As an author writes, he or she will focus on whether to start with the word or the image, and the reader becomes aware that the author is sculpting the text and will also focus on whether to cling onto word or image. Another interesting spin on this is illustrated in the movie mentioned above – the idea that a character is aware of the author. For my Advanced Senior Seminar in Fiction Writing, we had to do a quick free write in class where we illustrate this idea of meta-fiction. I think this illustrates the relationship between author and character. It also hints at how the audience views the character based off of what the author writes and how these words create visual images. It illustrates how imagery may be formed or crafted, and how the text itself is highly manipulated. Here is what I wrote:
It is always about control – gaining it, obtaining it, losing it, spotting it, leaning towards it, reaching for it, grasping it, losing it again.
There is a way in which you should live your life. And I decide it. There is something to be said in just doing and being and saying. But, unfortunately, I don’t give you this chance. My words cannot be trusted, but, at the same time, since they are quite literally all you have, they must be trusted.
I look at you and I want to tell you everything that is wrong with your appearance. Your shoes are too dirty, your hair sticking out along the sides. Your teeth are a bit too yellow and you have this funny gap between two of them that your tongue occasionally slithers in and out of. I notice the coffee stain by the pocket on your shorts and the sweat stains gathered beneath your arm pits. Instead, though, I lie. I tell others that you are a good person with a good heart and even though you may do something wrong here or there, you will, ultimately, make the right choice. Otherwise, I would have to kill you. Because that is the way of things.
I decide when you will eat, what you will eat, if you will get sick, if you will love. Will the guy be a good guy, the right guy, does such a guy even exist? You have no say in your outcome. I control you. Isn’t that sad?
I feel like it is only fair, though, to provide you with a couple basic definitions, for I will soon throw you into a world in which your future is dark and unclear. You will not even know the color of your socks until you have them on your feet. One is going to be blue and the other green and pink with stripes. The least I can do is describe to you some of the laws. These of course, you have no say over. Maybe I am attempting to prepare you for a world in which you have no control. Or maybe I am just doing this to justify myself.
If you are going to lie, do it honestly. Admit to the fact you are lying and don’t let the lie deceive you as the liar. To be a liar, however, is all too common. It is to be a part of the trend. You look in a store window and you see lies all over the place. It might be a blue lie, or a green lie, or a lie that has a cute bow tied around the neckline. This lie could take many forms, but at its core, beneath all the color and glamour, it is, simply a lie. There is nothing original about it, nothing unique, nothing to be valued. You see a liar, run far away. And fast. Liars stink, like mildew under a sink or mold on a chunk of cheddar cheese.
Honesty is nonexistent in today’s world. If you meet an honest person, hold on to them, because they are really worth something special. Honest people are rare, like clean bathrooms and unwrinkled paper. Honest people might as well be labeled antiques.
You are, without a doubt, a hypocrite, if you think you are not one.
On a Final Message:
Don’t trust me. I am unreliable and though I pretend to like you, at times you disgust me and make me cry and throw up and want to smash books out windows. Other times I laugh at you, mock you, and think you are so incredibly stupid. Sometimes, though these times are less common, I admire you and think you are a fine person, indeed. And the worst times – those are when I start to wonder if maybe you are really me.