Category Archives: Frank Morin

The Lord of the Rings – Perhaps the Best Movie Adaptation Ever

lotr posterIn my family, we love good stories. We’re avid readers, and we also love to go to the movies. Film adaptations of beloved books pose a unique challenge. Generally we read the book prior to watching the movie. It’s awesome to see characters and scenes we love come to life on the big screen.

As long as they’re portrayed well.

My kids are book-to-movie adaptation purists. They feel the movies really need to be true to the books. I lean in that direction too, but recognize that the two mediums are so different, they demand some changes, no matter how much the directors want to keep the story pure. We generally discuss at ridiculous lengths what we liked or didn’t like about adaptations.

Except for the Lord of the Rings.

That one was easy.

We love that movie trilogy! Peter Jackson and his cast and crew knocked it out of the park. They nailed it. That’s one adaptation where I believe the movie exceeded the book.

What did they do so well?

lotr-silhouettesFirst off, they loved the books. We, of course, purchased the extended editions of all of the DVDs and, being huge Tolkien fans, we watched all the extra bonus materials, behind-the-scenes clips, and interviews. Throughout all of that material, it was incredibly obvious that the movies were made by incredibly talented professionals who loved the stories and dedicated themselves to bringing the very best aspects of them to the big screen.

For example, they spent an entire year prepping the sets. They built Hobbiton, planted gardens, and gave the area time to grow and become real.

I took my family to New Zealand where the filming took place and we visited many of the filming locations. Hobbiton was our favorite. It’s just so awesome. Plus, it’s really the only set that’s still in place. Everything else had to be taken down, including the town of Edoras. We did visit the mount where it had stood and got to play with swords!

They took the time to tell the story. Many movie adaptations make the mistake of cutting massive sections of the story plotline away, or change it so far from what the fan base expects that it’s barely recognizable. Great examples of movies that should have been only the first successful installment in a long series, but which angered the fan base and crushed their chances to release the sequels, include Eragon and The Last Airbender. I was so excited for both of those, and so disappointed with the clearly sub-par adaptations that resulted.

The LOTR crew focused on the details. They hired armorers to make real weapons and armor. We visited the Weta workshop where they crafted the costumes and equipment and worked so much magic to bring the story alive. Absolutely amazing.

They cast brilliantly. Sometimes it’s hard to cast everyone to fit the descriptions within a story, but I feel the LOTR cast was brilliant.

LOTR case

LOTR Women

They developed a truly epic score. The music from this movie is still one of my favorite soundtracks, which I often write to, despite having listened to it far too many times to count.

They filmed all three movies at the same time. This could have been a huge gamble and could have been disastrous if the first movie had tanked. But it’s a testament to Peter Jackson and crew that they felt confident enough in their success to film all three movies. They knew they were making something epic, and they did not hold back. Knowing all three movies were already filmed helped drive anticipation for the annual release of the films.

And from a marketing standpoint, they again excelled. I remember for weeks and months leading up to the release of the first movie, they released interviews with cast and crew, sneak peeks behind the scenes, documentaries about the efforts to build the world of Tolkien. It whipped the fan base into a frenzy.

Then they delivered everything they promised.

So yes, I’m a huge Lord of the Rings fan. I love those movies, and I will watch them again and again. If I ever get the chance for a film adaptation of one of my books, I hope it’s by a team the loves my stories like Peter Jackson and his team loved Tolkien’s works, and who commit to the same level of excellence.

About the Author: Frank Morin

Author Frank MorinA Stone's Throw coverFrank Morin loves good stories in every form. When not writing or trying to keep up with his active family, he’s often found hiking, camping, Scuba diving, or enjoying other outdoor activities. For updates on upcoming releases of his popular Petralist YA fantasy novels, or his fast-paced Facetakers sci-fi time travel thrillers, check his website: www.frankmorin.org

No Stone Unturned – Launch Weekend!

No Stone UnturnedSome days it’s fun to simply celebrate a big milestone.

This weekend, No Stone Unturned charged onto the world ebook scene, already hitting #17 in Amazon’s Humorous Fantasy listing.

No Stone Unturned is book three of my popular Petralist YA fantasy series, which I describe as Big Magic, Big Adventure, and Lots of Humor. Check it out here. It’ll be released in paperback and hardcover formats on Dec 16th.

As student armies clash in intense group battles and Connor struggles to leverage a pitifully underpowered army against overwhelming competition, the intrigue at the Carraig intensifies to deadly new levels.

There are secrets at the Carraig buried for centuries that could shake the nation to its roots. Once Connor pokes that hornets’ nest, the Tallan’s own fury will be unleashed. To survive, Connor must outsmart conniving noble houses, dodge international assassins, survive unbelievably bad poetry, and risk exploring new powers that were concealed for very good reasons.

As the conflict escalates and his ultimate enemy steps out of the shadows to strike, Connor must face a threat not seen since the Tallan Wars. Connor’s best hope may be to embrace the thing he fears the most.

And become the ultimate unclaimed.

For more information, access to cool illustrations and maps and a sneak-peek into a sample chapter, check out this recent blog post.

Quartzite Bird Marble fist Soapstone Cubes

About the Author: Frank Morin

Author Frank MorinA Stone's Throw coverFrank Morin loves good stories in every form. When not writing or trying to keep up with his active family, he’s often found hiking, camping, Scuba diving, or enjoying other outdoor activities. For updates on upcoming releases of his popular Petralist YA fantasy novels, or his fast-paced Facetakers sci-fi time travel thrillers, check his website: www.frankmorin.org

How Dark is Too Dark? Setting the Right Tone.

Apocalypse
Image Found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apocalyptic_and_post-apocalyptic_fiction

I’m going to write a story where the world is on the brink of destruction. Few people, if any, will survive.

Simple enough. And dark enough to fit this month’s theme of dark and pulpy fiction.

Or maybe not.

Even though the high-level setting is pretty dark, I get to choose where I drop the story on the Darkness Spectrum. That choice helps set the tone, which will impact everything from plot to character to conflict.

For example, I could take a popular route and make it a gritty, YA post-apocalyptic story, like Divergent, by Veronica Roth, or Suzanne Collins’ The Hunter Games.

Or I could engage afterburners and drive it all the way to the extreme end of the spectrum and make it Horror, like The Stand, by Stephen King.

I could dial back the gore a bit and choose a Dark Fantasy, like The Warded Man by Peter V Brett, or really Dark Fantasy like Joe Abercrombe’s The Way of Shadows.

Or I could make it Epic Fantasy with some cool horrific elements, like The Elfstones of Shannara by Terry Brooks.

Then again, I could go the other way entirely and make it a light-hearted humorous tale, like Douglas Adams’ hilarious Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

This fundamental choice of tone sets the stage for much of the book’s progression. This month we’re talking about pulpy, dark fiction. Those stories must generate the proper emotions, ranging from fear, to abject terror, to loathing, to revulsion.

Although all of my stories have dark elements, I generally soften those edges with a lighter tone. That was a conscious choice I made, based on which aspects of the adventure I wanted to focus on, and my target audience.

Set in Stone, and its sequels in my Petralist series are YA epic fantasy, with big magic, big adventure, and lots of humor. The humor makes the tales accessible to all ages and helps the readers laugh through what could have easily become very dark, desperate scenes.

In my Facetakers sci-fi/fantasy time travel thrillers, some elements, like the extraction of human souls by pulling of people’s faces, can be borderline horrific. There’s a lot of fast-paced action and some really high-stakes challenges. The tone of the book is more gritty and dark than the Petralist, fitting for New Adult thrillers.

So choose your tone as a conscious decision, as part of your story development, along with character, voice, setting, conflict, and plot, and it will help set the foundation those other elements build upon.

About the Author: Frank Morin

Author Frank MorinA Stone's Throw coverFrank Morin loves good stories in every form. When not writing or trying to keep up with his active family, he’s often found hiking, camping, Scuba diving, or enjoying other outdoor activities. For updates on upcoming releases of his popular Petralist YA fantasy novels, or his fast-paced Facetakers sci-fi time travel thrillers, check his website: www.frankmorin.org

Editors: Angels or Demons

Editors: Angels and Demons
Editors: Angels and Demons
Image found at: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/544372673681409283/

We’ve already had great posts about dealing with rejection , handling criticism, and taking a story back down to the studs when it has to be done.

Today I want to focus on a different aspect of shepherding your story through those difficult growing pains between completing the first draft and clicking “Publish”.

Getting the critique from your editor.

Whether you’re a traditionally published author working with the editor from the publishing house, or an indie author who hired their own freelance editor, this is a required step. An editor must work over your manuscript, and they return it dripping with red ink.

Talk about damage control. What happened to that perfect draft you completed, reviewed twice, and sent out absolutely READY. You were confident that all the editor would have to say about the story is that it’s the best thing they’ve ever read, and can you autograph the manuscript for them?

If only.

It’s always shocking to get that edit back. How can there be so much wrong with this story when I poured so much of myself into it? The most startling situation is when an editor says, “I really loved this story.” But accompanies that positive feedback with a thirty page critique and hundreds of minor corrections.

The first time I received an edited manuscript, I felt a flood of emotion, from “there’s no way they understood me” to “I’m such a hack and I’ll never make it as a writer” to “Are you kidding me? Did they even read the story?”

edited manuscriptI handle it a little better now. Mostly.

Editors are not paid to be sweet. They are paid to tell the truth and to point out far more than simple grammatical errors. Sure, line edits are important, but a story needs a pass from a good content/developmental editor who can point out logic holes, problems with pacing, character arc, emotional beats, and much more.

Here’s a few keys to handling that traumatic day when you get your edits back:

  1. DO NOT build a giant pyre in your backyard and burn your manuscript.
  2. Do make sure you hired a professional, competent editor. Sure, your cousin who took some English classes might offer some helpful insights, but they’re not an editor. Indie authors often want to skimp on paying an editor, which can be one of the biggest financial investments of writing a book. Don’t be one of those writers. The investment is absolutely worth it.
  3. Take a deep breath and read through the entire critique before diving in and making changes. Make sure you understand their points, and give their feedback time to sink in.
  4. Put your pride in a drawer. You can take it out later. Maybe. Yes, you’re awesome and you’re welcome to hold onto the dream that the story is going to change the world and be more widely read than Harry Potter. But it’s still a draft, so it needs work.
  5. Remember, you have blind spots. No one can see them all. You cannot afford to release a sub-par novel. Your editor can point out those holes and blind spots. Use this as a chance to learn.
  6. Editing is how your story shines. Sometimes you need major edits, sometimes only minor polishing, but why spend months creating a story only to resist that last 10% that will turn your story into a masterpiece?
  7. Learn to enjoy the process. It takes practice, but through editing, you can grow your writing skills, learn new techniques, shed bad habits, and see your blind spots. If you loved your story the first time you work through it, you’ll love it even more the fourth time, when it’s fully realized.

At first, you may think the editor is a demon incarnate for ripping into your story like they do. If you follow the process to the end, though, you’ll realize they were really angels in disguise, helping you bring forth a much greater work.

If you’re lucky, you’ll only need to go through the full editing process once for that novel.

About the Author: Frank Morin

Author Frank MorinA Stone's Throw coverFrank Morin loves good stories in every form. When not writing or trying to keep up with his active family, he’s often found hiking, camping, Scuba diving, or enjoying other outdoor activities. For updates on upcoming releases of his popular Petralist YA fantasy novels, or his fast-paced Facetakers sci-fi time travel thrillers, check his website: www.frankmorin.org