Romeo and Juliet Adaptation #2 (1968)

Almost thirty years after the awful MGM adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, we get a beautiful telling of the story by director Franco Zeffirelli with Olivia Hussey as Juliet and Leonard Whiting as Romeo. This adaptation is by far my favorite and it really sets the bar for all other adaptations for Romeo and Juliet.

The first correction that Franco Zeffirelli did in this classic film was to cast a young Juliet and a young Romeo even more so that when the film debuted Olivia Hussey could not even go the premiere of the movie. The other standard that is in this film is not only the costuming one of the best but the music.

Aw, the music was gorgeous and it is used quite often when pairs skaters skate the classic tale of Romeo and Juliet. This soundtrack does not even come close to the other soundtracks for the other adaptations for Romeo and Juliet.

Above all this adaptation came out during a crucial time in American Culture for it during the rise of the youth. The youth during 1968 was front and center of pop culture, political upheaval and of course can we forget that this was during the sexual revolution that was taking place as well.

Most times when an adaptation comes out the question needs to be asked, why now? Well back then the answer would have been that basically while Romeo and Juliet as a tragic love story it is also about the young. The young in the conflict of their parents’ quarrels and the conflict of trying to appease of them while wanting to strike out on their own. These things that make this adaptation stand the test of time.

Furthermore, during this time in pop-culture, we get another great Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story, which I will save for tomorrow.

Romeo and Juliet Adaptation in 1936

I started this past weekend reading Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and I’m like almost done with it. I can remember vividly getting my first copy of the play, when I was about 14 (that was 16 years ago this month), getting home taking it out of my backpack and reading the full play from start to finish in one sitting and feeling pretty awesome about it. Granted, at the time I didn’t know that during the class that we would be reading and studying the play and West Side Story for a full semester which was like for four months. Let me tell you that there is nothing quite like that and I would never do that again.

This week I thought that it would be fun to look at Romeo and Juliet in context of the play and not only what we can learn from the play but also the many variations/adaptations of the play.

Granted there is nothing light about the tragedy that is Romeo and Juliet but some of the adaptations that came out over the years can be kind of funny to look at. The first adaptation that was sort of a sinking ship in my book of adaptations was the one that was one by MGM in 1936.

This adaptation started Norma Shearer as Juliet and Leslie Howard as Romeo. The first failing with this adaptation is the ages of the stars versus the ages of the characters. In the play Juliet is about 13-14 years old Norma Shearer at the time was about 34 years old and as for Romeo, he was about 40, so the stars were not young by any means. The second fall out with this adaptation was that at the time MGM was doing the big production movies that you see with The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind. The biggest production scene out of Romeo and Juliet is the party scene.

Yes, the costumes were fabulous and the music was grand for the time, however, when you’re actors are old enough not be starry-eyed school girls it just doesn’t work. Sorry, it just doesn’t. Furthermore, because of this production, it was the only film in Norma Shearer’s film career that took a big loss. I will give this for the 1936 adaptation and that is it is the only one to have Juliet’s only speech where she takes out the vile of and the dagger after she meets with Friar Lawrence [Act 4, scene 3], and that is about it.

Tomorrow, we will talk about one of my favorite adaptations of Romeo and Juliet.

Bookstore Finds #2

Today I went to 2nd and Charles in Broomfield and I found four romance novels as part of my bookstore finds, so I thought that I would share my finds with all of you.

WIN_20180211_183728Book #1 – Wicked Fantasy by Nina Bangs (Paranormal Romance): The first novel that I saw when I came across the bookshelves was Wicked Fantasy by Nina Bangs. I must admit at this point that when I normally wonder the romance shelves, I’m drawn to the paranormal romance and this one is no exception. The cover is stunning and the man on the cover is a real looker with those dark eyes.  I have never read anything before by Nina Bangs and I’m looking forward to reading this novel and her work.

WIN_20180211_185448Book #2 – Prisoner of Desire by Jennifer Blake (Historical Romance): The second novel that I came home with was Prisoner of Desire. As I have mentioned before, historical romance is not one of my favorites but for some reason, this book kept speaking to me and so for that reason, it came home with me. This book based on the back covered is set in New Orleans during Mardi Gras. This is another one that I can’t wait to sink into.

WIN_20180211_190718Book #3 – Lyon: The Lords of Satyr by Elizabeth Amber (Erotic/Paranormal Romance): The third novel that I found was Lyon. The reason why I picked up this book is that this is one is another paranormal romance and it is about a weir wolf which is sort of different from the vampire novels that I normally pick up. So I wanted something a little different.

Book #4 – A Witch’s Beauty by Joey W. Hill (Erotic/Paranormal Romance)The fourth WIN_20180211_191458and final book that I brought up home was A Witch’s Beauty. This novel is about angels and there is a new take on the angel type story. I also have other novels written by Joey W. Hill and normally she has written novels that deal with mermaids, vampires, and angels. For me finding a novel by Joey W. Hill is a score and the covers of all of Joey’s books are so beautiful.

 


Special Promotion: Right now 2nd and Charles is having a special dealing going on that when you buy 3 used romance novels, you get the 4th one free.

Movie Review: The Age of Innocence (1993)

I thought that I would finish the discussion of Age of Innocence by talking about the film adaptation of the novel. The film adaptation I found to be enjoyable and an enchanting take on the book. Granted nowadays when we talk about film adaptations, they do not normally follow the book or there are things either added to the film or things that were in the book that were not shown the film. However, with this adaptation, I found that it is a direct and true version to the book.

The casting of the film is about as perfect as it is going to get to the book; however, I feel that the character of Granny could have been played by Diana Rigg (Lady Olena, Game of Thrones) instead of the casted actress of Miriam Margolyes. The reason why I am calling this casting call out is that when you read the novel, the tempo of Granny’s voice sounds like the same deliverance as Diana Rigg when she played Lady Olena. As for the rest of the cast, I take no issue with for Winona Ryder has a tendency to either play really plain characters like May, or to play really strong characters like Jo March in Little Women, and therefore, I feel that she is the only one that could have given May the justice that she deserves.

The other lovely part of this film adaptation is the soundtrack, for it gave a strong representation of the times and showing the true feelings that Archer was going through. and that truly played out when Archer and the Countess were together.

I would recommend this film to anyone that enjoyed the novel or to anyone that would like a true adaptation of a book going to film.

 

Book Review: The Age of Innocence

I just finished Edith Wharton’s novel, The Age of Innocence, and there are a great many good things about this novel and there are some sad things about this novel as well. The best side about this novel is that you get a clear picture of New York Society in the 1870’s while get a clear picture of the social norms and customs. While also reading this novel based on the social norms we also get the clear picture as to why Newland Archer feels torn at times between May, who is his wife, and Countess Ellen Olenska, who is May’s cousin and the one that Archer cannot truly leave May for Ellen. However, while reading this novel you really want to Archer to leave plain May and go for the Countess, even though, she is married and has left her husband the count.

Even though Ellen and Archer have their moments together and you get the true sense that they want to be together and Ellen is the one to stop it on numerous occasions it was just not meant to be. Therefore, this is where we come to the true sadness of the novel in that this is the one case in a romance novel where neither one gets what they truly want. Archer is alone and May has died, and Ellen is alone, which in a way is what she wanted. But in the end, the romance between these two always showed that they could never be together as Archer wanted for he loved May too much and Ellen having been not only a cousin to Ellen but also a friend, Ellen could not bring herself to hurt May.

I enjoyed this book, but at the same time, you just feel that you are burden down with all about learning about the society and what they felt should be the best course of action by the family for Ellen. While at the same time Archer had to deal with trying to help her get out of what the family wanted for her even if it meant that he could not have what he wanted, which was Ellen.

Romance Subgenre #5 – Erotic Romance

We end this week looking at the final popular subgenre that hit the mainstream a couple of years ago thanks to Fifty Shades of Gray. Here is the truth about this subgenre, you could only buy this subgenre in your bigger bookstores like Barnes and Noble and Borders and also they use to also hold these behind a glass case and at some retailers, you would be carded if you wanted to look at them before you purchased them. Fifty Shades of Grey changed all of that for this subgenre.

The other fact about this subgenre was that on the back cover there used to be a disclaimer that read something like this:

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Well, if you look at the erotic romances that come out today there is no more disclaimer and they can now be found at your local grocery stores.

The subgenre has come under the criticism of whether these types of book are porn or is it the details that are in the books that make them so racy. I would argue that the details in the sex scenes and their details in a regular romance novel and turns up the heat like to the really hot scale but I would not necessarily call them porn books.

Also, the love or attraction that are in a regular romance novel is somewhat thrown out the window is used to instead of focusing on the romance of a couple you are more focused on the sex that is in your novel and your character may have one or more partner. The biggest take away with erotic romance novels is that sex sells and the steamier the better, and just like any other romance novel can fall into a subgenre so can erotic romances for I have one that is fantasy-based.

This is a fun genre to read and sometimes fun to write if you are ever bored with writing regular romance novels and want to try something new write a few of these pages turners to see what you can achieve. But as always before diving head into this subgenre, I would suggest that you study the genre and then find a few test readers to see where they would the details in your book and if they would read it. The reason why I say test it out before publishing is that you want to find out if your book really falls into the subgenre. The last thing that you want is for your novel to be smacked with a porn label and that you take things too far. Granted, it will get the label anyway but you want it by critics not by the readers of your genre.

Romance Subgenre #4 – Young Adult Romances

I touched on this a bit with yesterday’s subgenre, Paranormal, but actually, in reality, there is quite a bit too young adult romances. Now when we are writing young adult romances you are going to go for writing to older teens like somewhere between the 15-18 range, which means that your characters should be somewhere between 16-19 maybe even 20 but don’t push the bracket on placing them to be older than that. Basically, when looking at writing for teens/young adults the rules still apply and one of the biggest ones for teens is that the like to read about some teens that are bit older than what they are currently.

That also being said you can also focus the niche for your book to be a certain reader, such as the one that is either still waiting for their first love or they are going through their first love but have yet to experience certain things with that person. Now the biggest question around these type of stories is the subject of sex like you would find in a regular romance novel, and the answer is you can have some but not the extent that a normal romance novel would have or even an erotic romance novel would have. This is where rating your book becomes important, and then if your book was a motion picture you can rate at PG-13 and that is about it.

Granted, the main subgenre of romance that teens are faced with are usually paranormal romance, there is the occasional historical period piece, and then there is the contemporary novel other than there is typically where romance in young adult novels can be found.

Also when it comes to writing young adult romances, you can also write for middle-grade but as far as romance goes, it’s going to be awkward, puppy-dog love, and there may be kissing but no sex. I would really suggest when it comes to writing romance for young adults/teens that you really do your research as far as what is accepted and what is not for the age that you want to write your book towards.

Writer’s First Source: Romance Novels

As part of our month-long coverage of the romance genre, the first writer’s first source for this month is romance novels. If you are going to write in the genre, then I suggest that you read a mixture of novels that are in the romance genre. This means anything that appeals to you. Granted, some of the novels that are in the genre are part of a series, some are standalone. If you can find a standalone romance novel then that is where you should start.

The other part of reading romance novels is finding authors that you enjoy reading and that you want to read their other works. This is part of finding your masters that are in your genre. The part with this writer’s first source tip is that you want to study the masters of the craft that you want to pursue.

Granted when you are reading romance novels, you might also want to read some of the novels that are written for young adults, such as Twilight and some other novels that you look at that might intrigue you for the romance part of the book. You should actually read the whole novel so that you can see the good and the bad parts of the book but you want to pay really close attention to the romantic scenes of the book this includes how the sex scenes are written.

But even if you are writing romance, romance novels are a great way to study how characters interact with each other and how they become attracted to one another as well. So there are many things that writers can find when studying romance novels.

 

Romance Subgenre #3 – Paranormal Romance

Of all the subgenres of the romance genre, Paranormal is by far my favorite. The biggest thing with paranormal romances is that you are dealing with witches, angels, vampires, and other supernatural type characters. Granted, some readers have a hard time relating to characters of the paranormal since we do not live their lives or deal with the same problems that an angel might have or a vampire for that matter.

Now when I’m talking vampires, I’m not talking about the version of vampire that we met in the Twilight Saga, I’m talking your typical vampires that are more personified in pop culture, where they do not come out in the sun or they will be turned into dust and then we won’t have a romance.

These romance stories, usually have a human/mortal woman who meets a man that is a supernatural being and they are entered into their world and have to learn not only about the world but the man as well. Granted, in recent times with these type of romances, writers tend to give the supernatural being some sort of backstory that readers can relate to even if they were from old century England or somewhere in Europe.

That’s just one thing that we have to do as writers, creating a backstory for our supernatural character as to how they became a ghost or a vampire. The other part of writing this story is that we have to make them relatable to our readers. Furthermore, we have to make the romance not only possible but give them enough so that we still come out with them having their happy ending. Now granted, not every story has to end with our human character being turned into a supernatural character but we want something that will make sure that they will spend the rest of eternity forever. Whereas with other romances we know in the back of our minds that no one lives forever and that sooner or later that they will end up together in the afterlife but with paranormal romances, we have to make sure that our characters live forever together.

Also when we are writing paranormal romance we do not want to go into gory details but we want to make the biting and such somewhat like what is found in Buffy the Vampire Slayer or some other less gory vampire story. As far as angel stories, I have only run across a few but they in those stories you are dealing with both light and dark angels and one is trying to make sure that the dark does not take their romantic partner.

There are many ways that you can take a story but just remember that you have to make rules as part of your world building and if you break any of your rules, your readers are going to be all over you in a heartbeat. I suggest that you take really good notes.

Also when it comes to young adult romance novels, paranormal romance controls the market over other romances for young adults.

Romance Subgenre #2 – Suspense Romance

I must admit that I have only read one book that is within our next subgenre of the romance genre and I really enjoyed (I just cannot remember the title), today we are talking about suspense romance also known as romantic suspense. The subgenre of suspense romance consists of romance being the main plot while it has a subplot of a mystery, crime, or thriller.

Here is one key thing to note that your female hero is not waiting to be rescued or the victim, in this case, she is a full hero of her own right so you might want to think about Katniss Everdeen and what makes her a badass in her own right. The other thing to note is that while she is in the mix of the suspense so is our male hero right beside her helping her or they can be working together to solve whatever problem that they are facing. Does this mean that the police or any other law enforcement agency is not involved, the answer is no but they should not be the one to catch the villains of the story for it should be our heroes.

Furthermore, the other thing to note when writing romantic suspense is that there should be a balance between the romantic plot and the suspense. If you way too much towards the suspense side, such as the suspense overshadows the romance then you are hitting into mainstream literature and out of the romance genre. So, in this case, the balance should be like 70% romance and 30% suspense or something to that effect. Yes, you may have to do some research like you do with historical romance such as on police procedures depending on who your characters are.

Readers of this subgenre love their romance but they also want a little something extra like a mystery or a thriller for her character to be thrown into while they are trying to become romantic with the male hero, who she may or may not like in the beginning but something brings them together to make their romance possible. But the one thing that you want to keep in mind is that you do not want to make your readers mad by falling into cliches of other mysteries or thrillers, for your readers want something that is fresh and new. Just to add to a bit to this subgenre when it comes to literature mystery is like the second most popular genre of fiction next to romance.

Therefore, you should do research on both romance thrillers/suspense and regular mysteries just in case you need some help with the subplot of your novel.