Nicholas Sparks is one author that I sometimes compare my writing to (as in “If you like the way Nicholas Sparks writes, you’ll like the way I write”).
Nicholas Sparks does not write “formulaic” romance with happy endings. He does have his own “formula,” though: readers know if they’re in the mood for a good tear-jerker, they can pick up a Nicholas Sparks novel. It’s a tear-jerker because Sparks is a master at creating characters the reader cares about.
I too have a “formula” that doesn’t lend itself to the standard romance. And like Nicholas Sparks, I develop characters that struggle with issues other than (and in addition to) a complicated romance. (Although I’m more of a happily-ever-after kind of gal.)
Dear John tackles some of the same issues that True Surrender does – chiefly, what happens to relationships when one of the participants is in the military (a theme I often explore in my writing). Like Dear John, True Surrender is written from the male’s point of view (John Tyree).
Because of my recent interest in fusing writing and imagery, I decided to watch the movie before I read the book this time. I often hear people say the book is better than the movie. In this case, there were things I liked better about each.
The book focuses more on John’s relationship with his father (who is assumed to have Asbergers), whereas the movie’s main focus is the romance (surprise!). The sequence of events was rearranged a bit, but I could see how that was desirable for the movie “format.” Some character details were also altered, but most of these did not impact the story too much.
There were two BIG differences, though.
The first: In the movie, John is shot while on patrol in the Middle East. I enjoyed this Hollywood “addition” because… well, I write about this kind of stuff. However, it wasn’t really necessary for the storyline; I was left with the impression that it was inserted into the movie because the war in Iraq and Afghanistan is a hot topic today.
The second big difference: the ending in the movie is “happy” – in that the inference is that they will finally get to be together. The book ending, on the other hand, is vintage Sparks; the hero will forever pine for the woman he loves and cannot have.