Monday, July 03, 2006

Chick Lit Sans Four-Letter Words

The Devil Wears Prada -- StreepThis weekend my wife and I watched The Devil Wears Prada, one of the more anticipated movies of the summer—at least heavily promoted.  It’s the story of Andrea Sachs  (Anne Hathaway), a young journalist who has the chance to be the second assistant for Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep) of Runway Magazine. The problem is that Andy Sachs has no background in the fashion world or sense of personal style in her own dress.  Editor-in-chief Miranda Priestly is a much revered figure in the fashion world but essentially the boss from hell.  Andy’s challenge is to fit into this unusual environment and not only adapt but thrive.  The film has many light-hearted and fun moments as Andy attempts to learn about fashion and gain her own place in this different world.

The Devil Wears PradaThe movie is based on the New York Times best-selling The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger.  It’s likely many fans of the book will bemoan the movie and the different elements eliminated or not told in the film. Movies can only capture something like 10% of the contents from the book so it’s a common theme in these rare situations where a book has been made into a movie. Only a small number of published books ever become movies.  Yes, they make a large splash when it happens but it is rare in light of the many books published each year.

I am not the target audience for The Devil Wears Prada which falls into the chick lit category. As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m not interested in reading a bunch of four letter words. The advantage you have with the movie over the book is this area of “rough language.” If you wonder what I’m talking about, then go to the book link and click on search inside this book—then look at the cab driver conversation on the second page about halfway down the page.  You will see the F-word repeated several times in this paragraph. Not to be snooty but I’m not interested in reading this type of material—even if it is funny and bestselling. The movie carries out the same fascinating characters and the setting of the fashion industry sans the four-letter words of the book.

Andy’s transformation in the movie was intriguing to me.  Initially she knew nothing about fashion yet because she wanted to fit into the culture, she changed her life. It’s the same sort of movement, many of us have to make when it comes to the publishing world. Initially we start and know no one and very little about the expectations of the editor for our work. Through trial and error, reading about publishing and personal mentors, we learn how to meet the expectations of the editor for our magazine articles or our book proposals.  Our material becomes geared for a particular audience or market instead of something we just crank into our computers for our own amusement. Instead we are writing for a specific type of reader.  I found Andy’s experience symbolic of the journey.

6 Comment:

At 5:01 PM, Blogger Karen Left a note...

We just returned from seeing the movie. I'm not sure I agree with you about Andie's experience being symbolic of the journey unless you are referring to her self-discovery at the end. She never writes about fashion. And, I would hate to think my being published would ever depend on whether the editor's coffee arrived hot.

Did enjoy the way Meryl Streep took the character and made her vulnerable. Wonder if the author accomplished that as well?

At 5:23 PM, Blogger Terry Whalin Left a note...


Maybe I didn't say it right, but I was trying to get at how the character adapted to her environment and met the needs of her boss--even a difficult boss.

In the writing life, at times we have to meet the needs of a difficult editor. That editor is simply watching out for their readership. While Andrea didn't writing anything in the movie, I was talking about the process of meeting needs as symbolic of the writing journey--not that the character actually wrote anything.


At 5:26 PM, Blogger Heather Ivester Left a note...

I just finished reading Cyndy Salzmann's mom-lit book, Dying to Decorate, and I loved it. I'm curious if you "discovered" her, since it's a debut novel for Cyndy, published by Howard. Her recipes are fabulous!

Now I'm several chapters into Allison Bottke's chick-lit, A Stitch in Time, and it's a hoot. What a voice! I love her! I'd highly recommend both of these books. No 4-letter words at all.

It's a hard life -- being a book reviewer -- having to read novels "on the job." :)

At 6:52 PM, Blogger Dineen A. Miller Left a note...

Sounds and looks like a fun movie. I'll have to keep this in mind when I take my teenagers to go see it this week. I think I'll pass on the book though. LOL!

At 8:28 PM, Blogger Ruth Left a note...

Very interesting comments about Andy's journey. I can definitely see your point. I saw the movie Friday night. I enjoyed it but wasn't exactly wild about it, either.

At 12:22 PM, Blogger Karen Left a note...

I was disappointed in Andrea for not doing what you are pointing out--actually writing for the magazine. By the time she was done, she could have written a great piece. There was even an editorial meeting where Priestly mentions some of the articles they were exploring for the issue. I see what you were trying to say. Too bad she didn't follow through.


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