by Todd Strasser
Analysis: Writing Style
Image-Filled and Fast-Paced
A Novel Idea
Novelization. How cool is that word? Well, that's just what The Wave is: a novelization of a made-for-TV movie from the early 1980s. Many, many of the novels featured by Shmoop have been made into movies. But this might be the only novel here that was a movie first. Take that, Pride and Prejudice!
So what's the difference between a novel and a novelization? Well, a person writing a novel has a lot more stylistic freedom than a person writing a novelization. The novelizer (unfortunately we did not make up that word) usually has very specific guidelines about what can and can't be in the book (such as sex, violence, and language).
If you get the chance to watch the movie and compare it with the book, you'll see that our novelizer's task is not as easy as it looks. To novelize is to translate what's seen and heard in a film into to written words. Tough gig! Plus, the style of the book has to match the style of the movie.
Getting down to The Wave Business
Here's one example of how Strasser accomplishes this: of course you remember when Laurie finds the word "enemy" (15.23) written on her locker. We know somebody is in the darkened hall watching her, and that this somebody follows her as she runs out of the school. Here is how novelizer Strasser lets us know this without directly telling us:
The sound of footsteps grew even louder, and all at once the lights at the far end of the hall went out. Terrified, Laurie turned and peered back down into the dark hallway. Was that someone? Was there someone down there? (15.24)
In the movie, we actually see a person, hiding in the dark, watching her. And the scariness is only enhanced with sound, lighting, and fancy cinematography technique. Strasser has to create this effect with words, and he does it through images that call on our senses. In the quoted passage we aren't just told that it's dark; we're given an image of a hallway which is first lighted, then plunged into darkness. And again, it's not just that someone's following her, but we're told of the "sound of footsteps" that we can hear as we read.
One last thing: Strasser is putting into words something that happens on screen in 44 minutes. Yep, that's one hour of TV, including commercial. But the book covers over a week of action! That means that Strasser has to make things happen quickly. Short chapters, broken up into short, very readable, sections, help us feel how fast it all goes. Plus, skipping very rapidly between character points-of-view also contributes to the almost breathless style of this page turner.