Book Reviews,  Life in General,  Writing Rules

Reading The Hunger Games: Writing Notes

Last night the Hunger Games movie premiered in my area because some of it was shot here. Tonight is the big opening and I’m sure the theatres will be packed. In honor of its release (and because I’m on a self-imposed deadline), I’m rerunning the post I wrote after reading the series.  

I read the The Hunger Games trilogy (The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay) by Suzanne Collins. As I’ve said before, I’m not fond of first person present tense writing, however, I found myself lost in this series. Yes, the books are violent, though not as graphic as some I’ve read. Yes, they are disturbing when you consider the idea of children being forced to kill one another to survive. And no, there isn’t one mention of God. But WOW!, talk about books that hold your attention. From my standpoint as a reader and writer, here are some ways in which she did it:

Suzanne Collins created a future world that has the reader asking, “What if?” What if a certain group, a certain physical locality, owned all the power in our country and the rest of us were virtually slaves, our children forced to be “fight-to-the-death” entertainment for other hedonistic people?

Note to writer self: Create a compelling story line that sucks the reader in with the possibilities.

Each chapter ended with a cliffhanger that dared the reader to put the book down and do something else. Each book ended in that same way. (I’m so glad I read the series after all three books had been released.)

Note to writer self: Don’t wrap up the scene at the close of a chapter. End the chapter while riding the wave, not after it reaches the shore.

There were two romantic interests for the heroine. Through each book, I argued with myself about which guy she would/should have in the end. I was led to believe the series did not have a positive ending, so I imagined all kinds of ways in which my choice would be wrong (or not survive). Maybe I’m a little warped, but I didn’t find the ending to be negative. In fact, I LOVED the last bit of dialogue of the last chapter in Mockingjay and the epilogue, particularly the last line. Perfect!

Note to writer self: Keep them guessing! Even a “happily-ever-after” romance should have times when the reader has doubts about how the couple will work out their differences. Then, give the reader the opportunity to take a deep breath and release a satisfied sigh at the end.

In all honesty, I don’t think I’ll want to see the movie. I can imagine what Hollywood will do when it comes to the violence. But, as a reader, the books were gripping. As a writer, they were a reminder of why certain rules work.

I still haven’t decided about whether I’ll see the movie. I’ll wait to hear what people say.

As a reader, what did you enjoy most about the story? What grips you and keeps you from putting a book down? Will you see the movie?

If you are a writer, did anything else stand out as a lesson to you?

As an author of heartwarming historical and contemporary romance, Sandra Ardoin engages readers with page-turning stories of love and faith. Rarely out of reach of a book, she's also an armchair sports enthusiast, country music listener, and seldom says no to eating out.

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  • Heidi Chiavaroli

    Great post, Sandy! I loved the not knowing who she’d end up with question. And I agree, it wrapped up perfectly!

    Planning to see the movie this weekend. I’ll let you know what I think. 🙂

  • lauramctx

    I share your opinion of the books, which I’ve read twice — once a year or so ago and the second time recently in anticipation of the movie’s release. I was hesitant about seeing the movie, but I went last Friday with my husband, who has not read the books. We both enjoyed it. The setting is great, the acting is, in my opinion, far superior to that in the Twilight movies, and in general they did a pretty good job of getting the story translated onto film. There are necessarily a lot of things left out, some of which left my husband confused. That’s the problem of trying to translate to film (a visual medium) a story that largely takes place from one character’s POV and with much of the important stuff happening in her head.

    Still, it was well done and I enjoyed the movie. I’ll see the sequels when they come out.


    • Sandra Ardoin

      I haven’t seen the movie yet, Laura, and heard that it doesn’t do the book justice. Then again, that’s usually the case. I really enjoyed the books (as you can tell from the post) and will probably see the movie at some point. Thanks for reading the post!

      • lauramctx

        Let me know what you think when you do see it. I’m always interested in other people’s reactions to things like that.

          • lauramctx

            I’m glad to hear you enjoyed it. And I agree — much that they had to leave out. There are just some things that books do better!

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