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Tag: The Hunger Games

Monday Morning Coffee and Chat 11/26/18 – Improving Writing Skills

Hello! Welcome to Monday morning coffee and chat!

I really appreciate all of the questions that I get from my readers. Today I’m answering the question, “Did you take courses to improve your writing skills? If not, what happened to develop your writing skills?”

I hope you learn more about me through my response:

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The Hunger Games Trilogy

hunger gamesI’m not a reader. I used to be. I used to be the kind of reader who read in the car at stop lights and preferred solitary lunches at work so I could get another chapter in. I was a voracious reader. I had a library card and knew the owner of the used book store’s grandchildren’s names.

But, then I started writing. And, out of nowhere, I quit reading.

Everywhere you look, if you look at “advice for writers” or “how to be the best writer you can be!”, one of the first things they say is, “Read. Read everything all the time.” Well, I’ve found that to not be the case for me. I don’t like to read fiction anymore. I don’t have the patience for it, and I don’t have the time. Whatever free time I end up with, I’m using to read homemaking, Christian living, or cookbooks, or to plan blog posts, or plot out novels. And that is just simply the truth.

However, since I have a teenaged daughter who is a reader like I used to be, I’ve seen The Hunger Games. And, because she loves reading so much and was so excited for a movie to come out from the books she read in 8th grade, I bought her a lot of the “behind the scenes” style publications for the movie. In doing so, I read a lot of “why we picked this fashion” and “why this set looks like this” commentaries, and suddenly, I wanted to read the books. I wanted to see what an author could say in a description that would generate the kind of visualizations that the movie makers created to the great joy of the fans and readers. I wanted to know how a character could possibly be portrayed that would generate the kind of acting that Jennifer Lawrence stunningly gives in the movies.

catching fireBut, in the time since the first movie came out, I’ve been a little busy, so the desire to read the books was placed in the background. Over Christmas break this year, though, my father-in-law loaned me all three books. Since I was taking Christmas off from everything, I had time to read.

I read the first book in a day. It was really REALLY good. I was captivated by the story. Even in first person, present tense, it was good. The author does a remarkable job. After reading the firstbook, I re-watched the first movie and experienced the whole “the book was so much better” phenomenon, even though I’d loved the movies so much.

I read the second book the next day. Again, so much better than the movie, and so well done. However, by then my break was over and I’ve been back to work and I’m reading the third book at a much slower pace, wishing I could afford to just take an entire day and get it finished so I can get back to my life.

MockingjayCoverBut, talking to Gregg about it, something occurred to me. I was telling him that the writing was so well done that it didn’t distract me from immersing myself into the story – which is one of the main reasons I don’t enjoy reading anymore. He and I talked about some of the visualizations in the book and how simply the author creates a scene. You don’t even realize you’re being described to. Then, Gregg said, “What’s missing?”

I started thinking about it. I said, “Maybe some more feelings. It seems like there should be more feelings.”

He shook his head and said, “Faith.”

Faith! Faith is completely absent in these books. It’s not just a lack of faith or a replacement faith, but a total and complete absence of faith. How I didn’t realize that is beyond me.

Then I started thinking about how different these books would be WITH faith. You could have the same plot, the same actions and reactions. But, you would have an entirely different perspective of the main character. And, as I learned when I re-wrote my Sapphire Ice, a MUCH broader and more full character development.

It was an interesting perspective.
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Would You Let Your Teen See The Hunger Games?

Yesterday, on the Focus on the Family blog, the post title was “What Do You Think About The Hunger Games?” It posed the question, “Would you permit your son or daughter to watch if they wanted to? Why – or why not?”

A couple years ago, Kaylee finished reading the Twilight series on the heels of finishing Harry Potter and C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe, series. She was looking for something to read. Someone recommended The Hunger Games. When I read what it was about, I hesitated. That seemed a little bit of a dark concept for my tweeny daughter.

However, while visiting my brother and his wife last year, my sister-in-law (an avid reader) was talking to Kaylee about what she’d been reading and HIGHLY recommended The Hunger Games. Knowing she’d read it, and knowing she has high standards and wouldn’t harm Kaylee with a book recommendation, I didn’t protest when she handed Kaylee her copy of the book.

Kaylee LOVED the books. LOVED them.

I have been meaning to read them and simply haven’t had the time to sit down and read anything in the last year. But I listened to Kaylee when she told me about them and I understood the basic plot.

Here’s the basic, basic plot as broken down by Pluggedinonline:

Ever since the rebellion so many years ago, the Capitol has held an annual Reaping in Panem (a totalitarian-ruled country that’s risen out of a civil war). It’s a way to keep the dissidents in line while entertaining the “true” citizens of the Capitol. Each of the 12 districts must choose one boy and one girl “tribute” to represent them in the horrible Hunger Games. It’s a televised twist on The Running Man, Gladiator, Lord of the Flies and The Lottery that the Capitolites can’t get enough of: 24 teens enter a massive “arena”—only one exits.

They must fight to the death. For the cameras. For the country (they’re told). For celebrity. For a lifetime supply of food and privileges.

Kaylee had a birthday a couple of weeks ago, and for her party, she had five friends go with her last Friday to the opening of The Hunger Games. I took them to see it, and decided to stay and see the movie.

Katness, the main character, is a character worthy to be called a hero. She volunteers to be a tribute to save her younger, weaker sister whose name was pulled in the lottery. She has no desire to be there, and no desire to kill anyone. She tries to run, but is forced back into the play. She helps other tributes in the arena. It’s obvious she has a strong moral compass.

My daughter is 15. If she were younger — maybe even 12 — I would probably have had a harder time letting her see it. But, I have no moral dilemma in letting my 15-year-old see it. As I considered the question posed by Focus on the Family, this is what occurred to me: if the Christian community is up in arms about seeing this movie (and it seems to be split as far as I could tell reading the comments to the referenced post), why?

Consider this: If there was the tiniest thread of Christian worldview woven into the fabric of this story — just a tiny bit — something like Katness not being willing to kill another person because it’s against God’s law, or Katness being seen praying before the games begin, or any number of tiny things that would make her into a purposeful Godly character — then Christians would be clamoring to see it, would be announcing it all over the place, and would be writing long expose’s on why it’s such a wonderful moral film to see.

Yet, there is no Christian thread running through the story. However, the main character, Katness, has a strong moral code and doesn’t break it. (spoiler alert) She kills in self defense, and she kills in a mercy killing. But she avoids it at all costs and risks her own life for the sake of others.

Let’s not forget it’s a work of fiction — a story, with fictional characters set in a fictional setting. So, what do we like about stories? What attracts us to stories? First of all, that they have interesting characters in interesting situations that make us think and feel. In that regard, The Hunger Games succeeds. Take away, “should Christians watch it?” as a question and ask yourself, “Is it a good story? Are the thoughts and feeling it evokes worth exploring? When you take away the religious question, period, could this story have a good basis for teaching our children something about the secular world?”

The answer is a resounding yes.

We have very high standards for our entertainment consumption in our family. “Does it glorify God?” -OR – “Does it NOT glorify evil?” If it does not glorify God, or if it does glorify evil (and we measure evil with the Bible’s yardstick: condoning premarital sex and a host of other sexual sins, lying, stealing, murder, disrespecting parents, etc.) we do not allow it into our entertainment.

While The Hunger Games does not glorify God, in absolutely no way does it glorify evil. Quite the opposite. It takes on a voyeuristic society obsessed with a television show (reality TV, anyone — or, better yet [as I type this in Kentucky right before “The Final Four”] college sports?) and an imperialistic evil government filled with “fat cat” entitled people who fence people in “districts” and let people starve so that they’re willing to sell their names for extra chances to be pulled as “tributes” in exchange for food.

The fact is it’s a great story with interesting characters in interesting situations. I not only took my daughter to see it, I’d recommend you take your teenager to see it — and then talk about it. Incorporate YOUR Christian worldview into your conversations with your teenagers about it and use it as a teaching tool to teach Christ-centered philosophies.

I have now placed the set of books on my reading list and am really looking forward to digging into them.

How about you? Would you let your [teenager] see The Hunger Games?
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I’m so grateful for your visit, today.
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