I think I've reached the insane obsession phase of the writing process, as I made a lot of progress on the book over the weekend and can see what's ahead of me more clearly now.
As I mentioned last week, I went with some friends to see the movie Beastly. I'd read the book a few years ago and was curious about how they turned it into a movie. This is basically a modern telling of the Beauty and the Beast story. A rich, superficial jerk plays a cruel prank on the wrong goth chick and finds himself turned into a hideous monster, and he has one year to find someone who can love him even in that state, or it will last forever. His best hope is the brainy scholarship girl who seemed to find something to like in him other than his wealth and his looks, even when he was being a jerk. So, he comes up with a scheme to get close to her.
Possibly the biggest change between the book and the movie is that he's not such a hideous monster. They pretty much just turned him into a tattooed indie rock star. Or, as one of my friends remarked, "They should have at least taken away the six-pack abs if they were making him ugly -- like, give him a flabby belly, or something." But no, the "hideous beast" was a ridiculously built (and frequently shirtless) guy with swirling tattoos all over his body and face. He looked like he belonged on an album cover. I'm sure there are parts of New York where he could have gone and had women hanging all over him. It's been a while since I read the book, but I think they also significantly changed the last part leading up to the ending (the death/resurrection part of the hero's journey) in a way that made it a lot more shallow and trite. It seemed to just end without dealing with an issue that I would have thought would have been a pretty big deal.
The movie also left out my favorite aspect of the book, though I'm not sure how they would have conveyed that on film. In the book, the guy first decides to try meeting someone online, since then no one will know what he looks like. As in the Disney version, he has a magic mirror that allows him to see anyone he wants, and he uses it to get a look at the people he's chatting with online. Thematically, it shows that he's still shallow and rather hypocritical, since he's expecting them not to care what he looks like but he wants to see what they look like. But then, hilariously, he finds that almost no one on the Internet claiming to be a teenage girl really is a teenage girl, as he discovers that he's chatting with people like dirty old man pedophiles, cops trying to catch pedophiles, pre-teen boys pulling pranks or middle-aged women. And then there's the online support group for people who have been transformed magically, including the frog who has trouble typing with his flippers. But that didn't make it into the movie because I guess they were going with more of the Twilight teen angst approach, so there were lots of scenes of the guy looking longingly at the girl while a moody pop song played. I will say that it was one of the healthier relationships I've seen portrayed in this kind of thing, with only a tiny bit of stalking. But I'd generally say to save this one for HBO viewing, unless you're with a group of snarky friends and you have a theater to yourselves during an early matinee.
If you find the idea intriguing, read the book, which I thought was really clever in a "why didn't I think of this first?" way.