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A Bit Like Patton…

November 10, 2009

The hardest thing about historical fiction isn’t deciding what to include, but what to exclude. Unless you’re dealing with the absolute sparsest of subjects, there is simply no way you can ever put it all in. There’s just too much.

In this way, writing historical fiction is eerily similar to adapting a novel into a movie. When you’re adapting a 400 or 500 page book into a movie, something has to give. Compromises have to be made. And it’s no different when translating actual, recorded history into a consumable (and marketable) story.

I’ve been battling with this a lot lately with Son of the Republic. The plot is there, the sequence of events, but what I choose to bring to the top, gloss over, or leave out will quite literally dictate the tone of the entire story.

I had all this in mind when I sat down to watch my nice, shiny Blu-ray of Patton over the weekend. Now, it’s probably been ten years or more since I last saw the movie, and watching it with fresh eyes, I was amazed at the economy with which it tells its story. For such a big film, the scope is kept surprisingly small, with a laser focus on Patton for almost the entire run time. Battles are few and far between, rarely seen unfolding, more often glimpsed in newspaper headlines and propaganda reels. Patton’s drive across Sicily, up to Palermo then across to Messina, is talked about, but not much of it is really seen. And it works.

Reviewing the classic has given me a lot to chew on as far as how I approach Son of the Republic. And in all honesty, it’s sent me back to the drawing board as far as what to include, and what to leave out…

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Bonnie MacDougall permalink
    November 11, 2009 6:07 pm

    Also, if you want the widest readership, if most women are like me, they are thoroughly bored by battle scenes in print or in film, don’t have a clue who is throwing or aiming what at whom, who the good guys are, who’s winning, where everyone is running and why at the end of all this there could ever be called a winner.

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