Avatar2 and Unlimited Characters
by Bruce L. Cook
Have you seen the newly released Avatar2 "The Way of Water"? It requires 3+ hours running time. Why is the film so long? According to Director James Cameron, it is because there are "more characters to service. There’s more story to service."* Cameron feels that viewers “binge watch” and therefore should give him full-time attention.
As writers, let's think of this explanation. Think of Dostoevsky’s "Crime and Punishment". Or maybe the film Dr. Zhivago; which shocked audiences for its length. (Translation - one popcorn refill.)
Perhaps it is a question of popularity. Seldom does a new writer become popular. But, if we did, would we then add more characters and conflicts? Would that be at all useful?
I remember writing on the inside back cover pages of Crime and Punishment. It was my list of character names with page numbers so I could come back to a reminder of who the character was if that character came up again. I suppose it worked for me, but then I am not one of those who possesses unlimited memory storage for names and related info. (I wish I could do that.)
For new writers, we would gnash our teeth over the idea of submitting a manuscript with, say, three hundred characters. As we all know, it is a real accomplishment just to submit a manuscript for review and (hopefully) publication. Few of us would hobble the story with untold complications.
Humbly, with all due respect to the accomplishments of James Cameron and other celebs, everyone starts small. (Importantly, I do not mean to detract from Cameron's accomplishments. I speak to any one of us who, despite our best judgment, reaches for the heights after we accomplish our first grand victory. Here, as anywhere, we need to exercise restraint and self-control.)
With the acquisition of power and recognition, we sadly do what billionaires, politicians, and world leaders do best - seek more and more power. Just because they can. Think Vlad Putin. Unlimited Vodka refills for everyone!
I quietly await Avatar3. Five or six hours this time. Two or three popcorn refills. Just because someone can!
And, writer; if ever you come to a place of such power and influence, stay strong. Whatever you have achieved is enough. Take pride in what you have done. Improve whatever you are doing. But please have the personal strength to resist the next dimension in power.
--Bruce Cook, Publisher
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Publishing New Writers,
December, 2022 (vol. 23, no.12)
Dr. Bruce L. Cook
1407 Getzelman Drive
Elgin, IL 60123
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