Like Pat in The Silver Linings Playbook, this summer I’ve been on a course of self-improvement. He’s trying to be a better person by practicing being kind instead of right. I’m trying to be a better writer. (More on that in a future post.) In my quest to be a better writer, I decided to read the original book after watching the movie.

I  liked the movie when I saw it in theaters, but when I watched it the second time I noticed how well-put-together it is. It faithfully follows story arc principles, and the supporting characters are well-crafted and interesting.

As I’ve said before, the movie is wonderful. BUT the book … wow. It’s so much better as a study in flawed human beings. I loved it that the two main characters – Pat and Tiffany – were not all that attractive in the book (both physically and in aspects of their characters). They aren’t presented as romantic interests, but more as real, broken, not-so-desirable people who nonetheless deserve to be loved and desired – as do we ALL!

Also, just a note: in the book, Tiffany is supposedly a year older than Pat. In the movie, Jennifer Lawrence (who was wonderful) is in reality about 15 years younger than Bradley Cooper.

The  movie and book have loosely the same stories, but different enough that I had no idea how the book was going to end even after having seen the movie. The movie is a more polished, good-looking, thoroughly pleasing story. It’s calculated to entertain and deliver the feel-good happy ending.

The book is messier and not glamorous. Different characters have more and less prominent roles, and the emotional punch in the last line satisfied me far more than the conventionally satisfying ending of the movie. As I wrote in my previous post, this movie is a cut above the standard processed American “product” – infused with meaning and intelligence by its cast and director – but it is conventional in its frame and appearance. The book is its own unique, individual self.

As I strive to be a better writer by respecting the expected conventions of story arc and characterization, I hope I don’t lose my own unique, individual voice.