Dramaquill's All Things Writing

September 6, 2009

Turning books into movies

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Just wondering what all you writers out there think about movie adaptations of books?

More often than not I’ve heard the complaints after the movie ends about how the book was “so much better” or how the movie “didn’t do justice” to the book.  I must admit, I have found that disappointment myself, particularly with some of the Harry Potter movies as well as some mad-for-TV movies from several of Mary Higgins Clark’s suspense novels.

As an avid reader, I definitely visualize what I read in books and create my own versions of the characters and settings.  But that doesn’t distract me from what film makers do in the movies.  What I find the most disconcerting is how much of the books often get left out. 

I wonder, if I only saw the movies, and didn’t read the books first, if I would still feel confused, as if important pieces were missing?

Whenever I write, particularly novels, I have such vivid pictures of my characters – where they live, what they wear, how they sound, that I imagine I would have some difficulty with a movie version, particularly if I wasn’t given some creative input.

Yet, I think it must be a real kick for an author to see their stories unfold on the big screen, complete with all the magic of Hollywood. 

Having your book made into a movie does open up a whole other audience for your stories.  Many people will not have read the book, yet want to see the movie.  Many who have read the book will also want to see the movie.

If like me you’re an avid reader, then books, with their beautiful language and distinct voices, can never be replaced by the movies.  You will always choose to transport yourself to other worlds through the prose of your favorite authors.

But…despite the fact that not all movies do justice to the books on which they are based, I still think I would like to see one of mine on the big screen one day.

How about you?



  1. First of all let me say this. I am an aspiring director that occasionally writes short stories and loves reading. When I read a book I create the world and characters very vividly in my mind. We’re all different so it is only normal that someone else’s version of the same book would be different in their mind’s eye than yours. So going in expecting the same thing would be a notion that is bound to let people down. That being said, movies are a TOTALLY a different monster than books. Things that work in the novel do not always translate well on screen. Those things that do not work well or the things that might not sit well with audiences obviously have to be changed (take the “Curious Case of Benjamin Button”, in the story he was born as an old man, imagine watching that on the screen!) or left out entirely. A lot of books are also trimmed down because they would make really long movies (the shorter the movie, the more times it can be viewed in a day, the more money the industry makes). Apart from that, all the scenes have to move the movie along, some things the authors write about can be excluded and the movie will still make sense. However, it may loose some of the things that make the book great and create a badly translated flick. My personal opinion is that movies of books have to have their own element that makes them work as moving images on the screen rather than words on a page. Movies like The Reader, Atonement, A Scanner Darkly, Revolutionary Road, the Bourne series, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (and hopefully the Hobbit!) were to me awesome movies that captured the books beautifully but at the same time, were able to stand alone as their own work of art. I for one would lavish the opportunity to turn a book into a movie. Right now I am in the middle of writing a screen play for a book that I am reading. Challenging but worth it! When completed I definitely want to go to the author and have her look over it and give her creative input. Good luck with trying to get one of your books turned into a motion picture! And just as a side note, if one of your….sorry, when one of your books get turned into a movie try to fight for a director that has read the book and loves it. Once again, good luck!

    Comment by David — September 12, 2009 @ 4:24 AM | Reply

  2. Hey David: Thanks for your insight and great comments regarding books becoming movies. And thanks for the advice – I’ll definitely want the director to have read my book and loved it. Who knows – maybe someday we’ll get to work together???

    Comment by dramaquill — September 12, 2009 @ 12:25 PM | Reply

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