Saturday, August 14, 2010

Review: Tied in by Lee Goldberg

Happy weekend, everyone! Time for another Smashwords review. Tied in: The Business, History and Craft of Media Tie-in Writing edited by Lee Goldberg is a non-fiction title I found via a thread on Mobile Read. It's a collection of essays from authors who write media tie-in novels. As someone who has read such novels, mostly of the Star Trek and Buffy sort, some of the names of the contributors were already familiar to me, and I was curious to learn more about how these books get written.

As with most anthologies, some of the chapters were better than others. There were several standout essays. The first, by Max Allan Collins, dealt with a movie tie-in he wrote in which the movie was based on one of his own novels. It proved to be a frustrating experience for him because he had to show fidelity to the movie and his status as creator of the original property did not afford him any special privileges. He found it frustrating to try and flesh out the movie script based on his own insider knowledge only to have the producers of the movie reject some of his unscripted material.

Another standout chapter was a lengthy roundtable discussion that featured several of the many contributors answering questions as a group. They discussed all aspects of plotting and writing media tie-in novels. One observation I found interesting was a discussion on original characters. As a reader, I have sometimes found such characters boring; you buy the book to read about the Star Trek people, or the Buffy people or whomever. But since the tie-in authors are for obvious reasons constrained from killing off a major character or otherwise introducing a major change in them, an original character is often their only chance to spotlight any sort of character growth during a story. So for them, these original characters serve an important function in the book which, as a reader, I had not considered.

Other excellent chapters included Elizabeth Massie writing about her 'The Tudors' novels; Donald Bain on his 'Murder, She Wrote' series; Nancy Holder on her 'Buffy' experiences And Alina Adams on writing soap opera tie-ins, including in website form.

Overall, I give this book only four stars because some of the chapters were not quite up to par for me. This is the risk you run with any multi-author collection! If you have ever written fanfic or read Star Trek novels or been curious as to how this interesting sub-genre works, this is the book for you. It's a quick, light read with some food for thought for anyone who enjoys these types of books.

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