Posts Tagged ‘Disney’

Disney Princess Lineup

Disney Princess Lineup

I had a revelation tonight. I was thinking about the structure of my WIP and my thoughts drifted to my previous efforts at adapting the story of Esther. You see, Esther is a queen. My daughters love princess stories and Disney in particular has made billions on such stories.

So why hasn’t Disney released a princess movie about Esther? Ignoring the fact that she is a queen and not a princess, couldn’t the story be adapted to make it work?

And the answer…is no.

No. NO! It cannot be adapted! Neither Disney nor any other company will ever be able to use the story of Esther for their own purposes. It has always been and will remain a bible story.

But the intriguing part is why. And don’t be fooled. Disney has certainly tried. They were seeking adaptations for Rapunzel a decade or more before Tangled ever came out. And they finally did come out with a version of Rapunzel but Esther continues to elude them.

And here is the revelation. Esther can’t be adapted because the foundations of the story are built on Jewish culture and devotion to God. Neither component of the story can be removed or replaced without the whole story becoming a crashing house of cards.

This revelation in turn lead to a new understanding of what it means for a story to be labeled as ‘Christian’. I’ve blogged on this topic before but I’m not completely satisfied with my conclusions. Indeed, I never really came to any until tonight: If a story can have it’s Christian message removed or replaced then it isn’t really a Christian story. At least, not a strong one. We should all be writing strong Christian stories. We should all be crafting our stories in such a way as to make the biblical principles foundational, required for the story to be told.

And Esther is a fascinating story. Commentators have attempted to plumb the depths or the story for ages. But have any studied Esther as a model story? It’s plot-perfect in my opinion and has all the components to make it irresistible to readers: Kings, Queens, politics, opposing factions, dinner parties, deception, revenge, the threat of genocide, reversals, and even an Act III twist when the evil Haman is hung on his own gallows. The characters show a full range of emotions, gather information, and make life-altering decisions in an effort to escape the trap. Try reading it yourself for analysis and see if you don’t get sucked in.

The final point is that we should study Esther as a model for great biblical stories.

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Watch the video below.

Go ahead. Immerse yourself in the world of Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean and remember how you felt the first time you saw the movie.

(If you haven’t seen the first movie, you’re missing out. It’s got a great story with a complex plot, well-defined characters, and lots of action.)

Isn’t this a great way to distill an entire movie down to an easily manageable 8 minutes? There’s a lesson in here for writers as well.

You may have noticed that Captain Jack Sparrow’s dialogue seems to change after he escapes the jail cell at the beginning of the movie. This lasts approximately until the first visit to the treasure cave. It’s almost like there are two different Sparrows – the confident one who’s a little crazy that we’re introduced to and the more clear-spoken and somewhat stupid pirate from the middle.

If you didn’t notice the change, you may want to rewatch the video. I think it starts at 1:38 and lasts until 3:10. His lines begin to fall flat and lack the singular, dramatic style that we came to expect from the beginning of the movie.

Why this change? I think we are seeing Sparrow’s true personality come out courtesy of good screenwriting and good acting by Johnny Depp. The craziness in Sparrow’s personality is all smoke and mirrors to conceal the pirate’s true intentions and keep his enemies unbalanced. Characters should always be clearly and consistently defined yet complex. Sparrow is all this in spades.

How does the writer maintain consistent yet complex characters?

By performing strategic read-throughs for each major character.

Do this after your manuscript is otherwise complete: Choose one character to focus on and read through your entire manuscript. You are looking for character inconsistencies and opportunities for improvement. Make edits as you go. Look at dialogue, physical descriptions, the works. Above all, remember to stay focused on that one character. This includes skipping over paragraphs, scenes, and chapters that don’t involve him or her. After your read-through is complete, finish any remaining edits before moving on. Repeat for each major character in your manuscript.

Your manuscript will be stronger for this investment of time. Make it a regular part of your editing process.

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