Saturday, March 31, 2007

A Writing Lesson: James Bond Is My Boyfriend (and Other Exciting Fiction)

I finally saw Casino Royale, and I found it to be an enjoyable flick. However, it wasn't because of the plot (which I couldn't really follow unless I rewound a few times), and it wasn't necessarily because of the new James's charm or his amazing Greek Godly physique. (Although those were nice, and my husband glared at me during the entire "walking out of the ocean" scene).

What I found, in fact, was that I was in total agreement with my sons: the appeal was in the action. Granted, this has always been a James Bond staple, so it wasn't surprising that the most compelling parts of the movie were the chase scenes. But I found, when we dissected the film after viewing it, that we weren't saying, "That was a clever line that he said to the bad guy at the poker table." None of that really stayed with me, and I can't even remember what he said to the pretty woman as he flipped her around in the bed as if she were an attractive pancake.

What I remembered was what my boys remembered: that the guy Bond was chasing was really fast, and James was really fast, and it was exciting to watch two fast guys running. Then the bad guy did this amazing launch of his body through a tiny window, but James came barreling right through the wall in a most unexpected (and satisfying) way, and we all cheered like groundlings.

In the process, I learned a lesson which I want to apply to my writing: description and narration are necessary and can be beautiful, frightening, fun. But action will raise the reader's blood pressure, action will make them turn those pages, and action might be the only thing they remember when they close the book.

Sometimes, it's all in the action.

Image: Yahoo Images


Anonymous said...

Yes, the action sequences are superb in Casino Royale, and Craig is totally believable because he's so craggy and tough. When you read the novel, you see he's closer to how Fleming saw Bond than some of the later Bonds were. I think Craig and Connery both have an element of wildness and unpredictability in them, which makes them the best Bonds.

Julia Buckley said...

That's what I've heard, Lev, and though I've never read a James Bond book, I think I might start this summer with Casino. My son is twelve now, and I'm thinking he might want to read it, too. We'll have to read something together once the Harry Potters end. :)

Anonymous said...

The book is kind of crude, but fast, and very limited in its settings. If you love Bond, however, then you have to read Simon Winder's new book The Man Who Saved Britain all about Bondmania. It's a hoot, and worth reading aloud at many points.

Julia Buckley said...

Well, my son might have to stick to Alex Ryder, the junior James Bond, for a while. But I can still read it, crude or not. :)