A blog about writing, reading, and watching stories

Month: January 2022

3 Reasons to Read The Witcher books even if you’ve seen the show.

I enjoy the Netflix show greatly; it’s wonderful to see Sapkowski’s world come to life. But there are elements of the books that didn’t make it into the show…

  1. Sapkowski’s grim humor.
    • Let’s be honest: this is what kept me reading through the whole series. The books were hilarious. Young Jaskier’s attempts at writing; Geralt’s terse responses; the vegetarian vampire…I have to stop or I’ll give too many spoilers. Of course, you have to be ready for dark, Eastern European humor. My first personal lesson in it went like this: Three soldiers jump out of plane behind enemy lines, but their parachutes won’t open. “Oh, well,” says one. “Our ride would have been late anyway.” (Thanks to Vladimir for the joke.)
  2. The satire of petty bureaucracy.
    • We’ve only seen the kings in the Netflix shows, but the corrupt town officers, jealous of their paltry power and greedy for bribes, that loom large in the books. When Geralt’s swords are confiscated…it even sounds like the beginning of a joke (Season of Storms, BTW).
  3. Expert timeline experimentation.
    • Sapkowski like to play with non-linear timelines within books, and the payoff is often extremely satisfying. I’m not telling you who the little girl saved from a monster in a seemingly unrelated prologue turns out to be. Nope.

HBO does DC: The Titans

I want to enjoy The Titans, I really do. There is definitely tortured-superhero character development to enjoy—especially in the first season, which when defined as it should have been by Rachel’s deliciously creepy arc, includes the first episode of the second season. Yet the writers keep making one particularly questionable decision over and over. Usually, when a TV story follows characters in different settings, or in different time frames (past and present), these dual story threads are interwoven within episodes. And have you heard the cliché, You have to understand the rule before you can break it? The writers are certainly making a conscious choice not to flip back-and-forth, but instead to devote entire episodes to the secondary storyline. This structure can work…but only if the writers were still addressing the purpose of the usual rule: Leave them wanting more.

Knowing when to leave

A good time to leave a storyline is when the characters are on the brink of something exciting—victory, disaster, anything the viewers are dying to see. This makes the viewers (or readers, because the same principle works for chapter breaks) anxious to get back to the other storyline. The Titans continually leaves the secondary storyline after a moment of resolution, an ending point so neatly tied in a bow I kept thinking the secondary arc was finished when there were actually more episodes to come! So, of course, I wasn’t in suspense, anxiously awaiting the next installment.

What’s next on my watchlist

Suddenly, there’s so much spec fic to watch: new (to me) seasons of The Handmaid’s Tale, The Witcher, Star Trek: Discovery, The Wheel of Time, possibly Locke and Key. What’s on your list?

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