What a writer can learn from a movie like Maze Runner

 If you are a movie buff, like me, then you’ve probably seen “Maze Runner” and maybe even the recent “Scorch Trials” – the second installment of the series.  Both movies were created from the books written by James Dashner.

I missed “Maze Runner” in the theaters, but luckily, I recently discovered it while flicking through channels on late night T.V. The entire movie was 2hrs and 3 minutes. The story begins with a boy in some sort of cage or metal contraption. He’s then pulled up through a hole and when the cage opens, he’s in an open grassy area surrounded by a crowd of other boys. I had to re-watch the beginning a couple of time over because I thought I’d missed something.

What just happened and what did I just see? I was so confused. As it turns out, this was exactly how I was supposed to feel. You see, the character didn’t know any of this either, nor did he even know who he was.

It was great! I was starting on the same footing as he, and together, through the course of 2hrs and 3 minutes, we made all the crazy wicked discoveries together!

Now, anyone who knows me and risks sitting through a movie with me has to come to terms with the fact that I am not normally just an observer in a movie. While most people are content watching and waiting for a movie to unveil itself, I’m usually busy connecting dots, figuring out who did it and where – and with what.

However, this was not the case when watching this movie. Instead of figuring everything out ( which the writer made very difficult to do) I found myself completely absorbed into the plot, the character development, dialog and story content. Finally! A movie that I can’t easily predict the plot development. Kudos to the writers and director!

What I did find myself thinking about, though, was the book. Most movies do originate from books (or comics) and this one was no different. And, while many very good movies are born from good novel’s, it’s rare to find one that is so well made in both plot and character development that you want to read the book. Usually, the opposite is true.

How many times have you said or heard someone else say … wow, the book was amazing but the movie was horrible? I know I’ve uttered those words more than once.

I think one reason why a story can move from outstanding to flat is the communication between the story and the audience. You see, in film, the story is now visual as opposed to the mental images created by words. You can hear the characters voices, see their facial expressions. This is great because you see the words and descriptions brought to life in front of your eyes.

However, you miss the direct insight into their thoughts, their motivations and feelings. This is something you can’t get from film, but you do get from books. A movie can show you the characters, the landscape and all the cool visual effects, but, as a writer, I can show you why a character said or did something. I can describe his feelings and show you, with words, his world through his eyes.
I find this fascinating!

In the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, for example, there’s a scene where Faramir says the ring is a “chance to show his quality.” In the movie, you get the idea that he is actually tempted and considering forcibly taking the ring. However, in the book, you are able to understand his motivation and feelings clearly. You know that the words he speaks aren’t from pride or vanity, but come from a place of sadness and regret over the failing relationship between him and his father.

How many times, in a movie, do you watch a character do something or say something that just doesn’t make sense? Or it seems out of context/disjointed or just completely absurd?

Well, it probably did make sense in the book, where the author was able to describe what was going on in his head and his actions/reactions according to his understanding of the world around him.
I, obviously haven’t read any of the “Maze Runner” books, but I am intrigued. I can’t help but wonder, if the movie was that good. If it kept me engaged and amazed through it’s entirety, I have to wonder – was the movie that good? Or was the book written so well that making the movie was almost error proof?

Most of all, this insight only encourages me to want to be a better writer. To BE a better writer!Yes, a good movie can come from any book … but wouldn’t it be ideal if you published a book so well written that the movie practically writes itself?