Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Martian Child

My daughter and I went to see Martian Child over the weekend. I don't go to movies very often, but I've been reading No Plot, No Problem (a guide to novel writing for NaNoWriMo), and one of the suggestions was to take a break and watch a television show or go to a movie and think about plot development. My daughter picked the movie, but it turned out to be a great one for my purposes. The protagonist is an author (a very successful one, kind of a science fiction version of J. K. Rowling) who decides to adopt a seven-year-boy who thinks he is from Mars. He's single, a widower, so the movie is all about the connection between the father and his unusual son, without the bother of interaction with a mom or even a nanny. It all works out fine, of course, because this is a movie, and the father writes a novel based on the experience, guaranteed to be a feel-good best-seller.

The real-life book that the real-life movie is based on is "semi-fiction" by [apparently famous] science fiction author David Gerrold who adopted a six-year-old son as a single parent. In real life the Gerrold and his son played a game about pretending to be Martians; the child didn't really believe he was a Martian, as he did in the movie. In real life Gerrold is gay, and the father in his real-life book is gay. I guess introducing the whole issue of gay parenthood would have changed the focus of this movie. Perhaps they could have made his sexual preferences ambiguous, though, instead of making him a widower still grieving over his dead wife. The book was originally a short story, then revised as a novelette.

My NaNoWriMo novel (also more truthfully a novelette, estimated to run only the minimum 150 pages) is "semi-fiction" too. It's based on an experience that happened to me about ten years ago. I am making lots of changes to "novelize" my story, but sometimes truth is so much stranger and more satisfying than fiction, and sometimes I just want to tell the story the way it happened. I have introduced several other characters, and I made myself a proficient cellist in the novel, though I did not take up the cello until a couple of years after the events in the novel took place, and I am not yet as proficient as the narrator of my book. I threw in a harp player for good measure. Adoption was a factor in my real-life experience so one of my characters is an adoptive parent. In my novel, the two main characters, who would not have done this in real life, collaborate to write a musical instead of a novel. I needed to depart from reality a bit and wanted a feel-good ending. :-)

So, it was the perfect movie for me to see, legitimizing the "semi-fiction" novel and allowing me continue merrily on my novelization path. I just hit the halfway mark of 25,000 words and added a word-count widget to the sidebar of this blog so that those who are interested can see how I am doing.

Next, my daughter and I plan to see August Rush, another adoption tale, this time with cello. Hmm, I wonder who will play the cellist when my book is made into a movie....


Frances said...

I've been seeing commercials for that movie, I didn't know the child actually thought he was from Mars.
I used to enjoy seeing movies with my daughter when she was younger and discussing them afterwards.
Kids can have amazing insight.
My NaNoWriMo is teen fiction, but my teen is quite advanced.
Take care,

Maricello said...

Hi Frances, thanks for visiting my blog. In the movie, the child makes "Martian wishes" come true (such as wishing for a home run for a player in a baseball game) so the viewer wonders too if this child is really a Martian.

Honestly, I was a little disappointed when he proved to be just another earthling.

Good luck with your novel.

melissa said...

Looks like you are doing great on your novel! Hang in there!