What's a writer to think about the #HungerGames?

The group dressed up and headed to the premiere.
My house is unnaturally quiet. It's the first official day of Spring Break, and I have extra teens in the house besides my own four. Yet no one's stirring.


They all attended the midnight showing of the Hunger Games, based on the bestselling books by Suzanne Collins. If you haven't heard about the movie by now (and there will be several sequels), it's time to understand what the hype is about. After all, you do want your own books to be made into movies, right?

What is it that made Collins' books so compelling? I have a couple of opinions.

The writing is good. Even the most fantastic idea will fall flat if the execution is not there. Collins is not a debut author, and spent years writing fiction and for television. Though her novels are written in present tense, which not all readers enjoy, you'll be surprised how you don't notice it because you're pulled in by the characters. Though it's a young adult book, adults have caught the fever and devoured the series. If you haven't, you should. All in the name of writerly research, of course.

She employs constant conflict. Collins not only fills her novels with nonstop action, but the characters each have complex inner and outer conflict. For a fantastic analysis of how the conflict is used to its best advantage, check out Randy Ingermanson's article Characters in Conflict. I guarantee reading it will improve your manuscript.

She takes advantage of screenwriting techniques. Collins has written for children's television for over twenty years. That kind of long-term experience brings huge benefits for novel-writers. Making use of screenwriting techniques helps to pull your reader along, instead of letting the story meander. When it came time for the screenplay to be written, Collins wrote the first draft herself, and collaborated on the further evolutions. For more information on screenwriting techniques, check out the free plot tools from Save the Cat.

I'm sure there are many other opinions of what Collins did right. What's your opinion?
Midnight madness over the Hunger Games


  1. I have to agree that even the best stories will fall flat if the writing isn't good.

    Having read the books, I have to say I enjoyed them, but didn't go crazy over them they way I have with other books (namely the series I'm pushing on everyone - The Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson). This is largely because it is very young adult, and while not opposed to the genre, I prefer my Fantasy and Sci Fi to be more adult. It's also the present tense, first person perspective. I've never really liked those either.

    However, despite these objections, the story is good. The writing is good. And it does lend itself very well to cinema, I have to say.

  2. I'll have to check out the Malazan book. I love good recommendations! I just finished Game of Thrones, which was well done, though there were a lot of characters to keep track of.


  3. I guess I've been waiting until someone really, really convinced me to read Hunger Games, since my TBR pile is already overwhelming--but I think you just did :-) And thanks for all the links again, especially plot tools from Save the Cat. I'm on my way over there...

  4. It's a pretty fast read, Kenda. I'm all for analyzing books that teens and adults play tug of war over.

    Hope the links inspire you! I haven't seen the movie yet, but the kids gave it high praise.


  5. I'm a 47year old mom, and I do not subscribe to these types of books, I have never read the Hunger Games or even heard of it for that matter. I did however went to see the movie to see what all the hype was about. I found it to be interesting plot, as I don't recall another movie with this kind of plot in it. I however did not find it as good at the Twilight series. Maybe I need to see the sequels before I pass judgement. It was a good movie, I however have seen better and much worse.

  6. I think some of the best writing around is currently in the YA genre, and The Hunger Games is an example of that. I loved the trilogy, and I think the books were page turners because of the constant conflict. Can't wait to see the movie.

  7. Kandace, if you liked the Twilight series, you'll probably like Hunger Games. They're similar with their love triangles, but I believe the writing is stronger in Hunger Games. That said, as you saw in the movie, there's a lot more violence.

    Charlotte, I agree with you about YA writing. It makes me want to work hard and make sure my novel is the best I can make it, since there's such stiff competition! I'll let myself see the movie when I've finished my novel in April.




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