1. afinemess
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    afinemess Active Member

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    book to movie

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by afinemess, Nov 20, 2009.

    So I dont know why I woke up thinking about this, maybe because of the Twlight mania invading my personal space, or because I watched the trailer to The Lovely Bones yesterday. But I've noticed most screenplays from novels are written by someone other than the author of the book. I always plan to take my novel when its finished and make my next task writing the screenplay of it, for my own entertainment of course. But most movies adapted from books can arguably be described as far less enjoyable than thier counterpart. I wonder if this is because someone other than the original author is at work. Why is it the writers of the books arent the ones writing the movie script? Am I just over ambitious or is there something I dont know?
     
  2. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Because writing a novel is a very different job than writing a screenplay.
     
  3. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    They can be involved in the process sometimes, just not in a way that gets they credit for the screenplay. It's also up to the studio to decide who writes the script, anyway, not the author. One of the issues is the simple fact that not all authors know how to make the story work in such a different format or be willing to trim things where they need to be trimmed.
     
  4. Operaghost
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    Operaghost Contributing Member

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    The author writing the screenplay is not always a good thing, as they can be too close to the material and as people have stated the two materials are very different, so some things that work well in novel will not on film and vice versa, and lets face it there have been some terrible examples of this occurring, the stormbreaker movie for instance is awful and was changed around completely, it had characters who shouldn’t have been introduced, name changes and extra action sequences all of which got Alex Rider fans seething, and was written by Anthony Horowitz (who as a screen writer had no excuse really) that being said The Lovely Bones, which is my favourite novel looks fantastic
     
  5. afinemess
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    afinemess Active Member

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    Yeah, I get that, and I'm sure it's not something many could do. But the way I see it (and maybe I'm just a control freak) but if someone was going to take something I had written and created in my mind and make a movie from it that people would always associate with the book, I'd want to do it myself so it could be as perfect as possible. Even if that meant it never got made or took twenty years of me working on it. I've just seen some movies where it looks like the person who made the movie read a synopsis rather than the novel and went to town. Anyway, I just thought this could make good discussion.
     
  6. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you went by the book, the movie would end up being 12 hours long and nobody would be able to stand watching it. If you want the film to be exactly like the book, why make the film at all? People could just read the book. Film is a different experience, with entirely different premises. It's not a scrolling novel with sound.

    99% of the time, when some studio becomes interested in adapting a book to film, or just see a future potential in it, they'll buy up the film rights for it. That means, they can do whatever they think is best with it, or choose to never exercise the rights they bought -- this happens more often than you may think. Film rights for all kinds of stories, just lying in piles in case they become relevant some day.

    Of course, you could always choose to say "no" to an offer on buying film rights. I think your options would end there though. They'll be the ones pouring millions of dollars into the venture, so of course they wanna decide how it's done.

    They decided to buy up the rights based on how the book appeared in their heads while reading it, not how it appeared in yours as a writer.
     
  7. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Ian McEwan said he wasn't among the Atonement screenplays writers because it was boring to go over his own work.
     
  8. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    But he's written the screenplay to some of his novels...
     
  9. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I don't think those were novels. They were just screenplays.
     
  10. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think 'Enduring Love' is the one I'm remembering, about a stalker and starts with a balloon accident. Perhaps it was a film for the BBC and not on world release, though.
    A friend of my mother's, David Lodge, has done the screenplay for the TV adaptations of several of his novels, I think. I remember 'Nice Work' was one of them.
    I don't think it's all that uncommon for the novelist to write the screenplay. But it doesn't make a person a bad writer if they leave it to someone else--as people point out, it does require a different type of skill.
     
  11. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    I know it seems like they didn't draw directly from the book, but the good adaptations always do. Anything they change or take out is done for good reasons, in the interest of time or because it really would not work on screen. The only adaptation that really was the book on screen that I know of is Of Mice and Men, and that book is only 100 pages long, with a very simple concept. Most books are not like that. And I did say before that authors are sometimes involved in the process, and filmmakers do care about making a movie that will please the author.
     
  12. Twisted Inversely
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    Twisted Inversely Senior Member

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    My rule with adaption’s is that they should be good movies (TV shows, comics, waterever) first, good adaption’s second. If the film doesn't stand on it's own and presume that the viewers have read the book then in my opinion it fails.
     
  13. bluebell80
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    bluebell80 Contributing Member

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    I think a lot of fiction novel writers aren't adept at writing screenplays. Thus they sell the rights to their book/s and let someone else do the job. There is no reason you couldn't write the screenplay, however I'd say research how to write screenplays (all the technicals of it) and then adapt your novel to screenplay. When I took creative writing classes in college my whole third class (one whole semester) was dedicated to adapting one of our short stories to a screenplay. It's a lot different from writing a novel, but it's not hard to do.

    I have a screenplay writing software (that I got for free online) on my other laptop -- thus I haven't a clue what it is called-- that I was using to write a screenplay. I fully intend to be one of those writers who also adapts their book to the screenplay. There are enough writers who do it, so I know it's not frowned upon by the studios or by whomever might be producing the movie version.

    That said, I know the disappointment as a reader/watcher when I read the book first then watch the movie. I've come to the conclusion that most books never translate as well into movie form. The only one I can say did the translation well was Autumn. I read the book, and then watched the movie, and it covered most aspects of the book that were important. But with movies that really disappointed me were Queen of the Damned by Anne Rice, and Time Traveler's Wife by Audry Neffinegger (not sure if that is the correct spelling of her name.) I read QotD about four times. I loved, loved, loved the book. It was full of suspense and anticipation but the move...blah, nothing. The movie focused on Lestat, who, yes, was a main character in Interview with a Vampire, but who was a minor character in QotD. The story in the book revolved around the creation of the whole vampire race from the legend that Rice created, however none of that was shown in the movie. The whole movie pissed me off. Besides not getting Tom Cruise to play Lestat, they focused fully on his storyline from the book,which was not the important part. The movie people tried to cash in on Lestat's image, but had nothing of the real story of the twins and the creation of the vampires through the Queen and the curse put on her. Then they messed up the ending, where the other twin is the one who kills the Queen, not the one shown in the movie, she lives into the next book. The whole thing made me very, very mad.

    With Time Traveler's Wife...I've read that book twice, then I watched the movie. Total disappointment. The movie missed a lot of the good stuff, and they changed the end for no apparent reason, so that the whole thing didn't make sense. The end of the movie follows along with the ending in book, but, since I don't want to spoil the ending for anyone here, they didn't include an important part to the end. Instead they changed it to be something else that didn't make sense as to why he was confined to a wheelchair and why Henry doesn't show up past the age of 43. I thought the actor choice wasn't too bad, though I wouldn't have cast Eric Bana as Henry, it wasn't awful. Ron Livingston, as much as I like him as an actor, shouldn't have been the supporting character Gomez. Gomez is supposed to be Swedish or something like that, blond hair, blue eyes, not brown hair, brown eyed.

    It's the little things in movies that the lovers of the books catch. Not just the screenplay aspect of it, though that is a big part, but the actor selection and what not. I know when I get a book finally published, I'm not going to sell my rights to where I have no say in it. I'm going to look for producers who will take my screenplay version or something that pays due respect to my book, and I want some say in who is cast as the actors. If that is asking too much, then I won't sell my rights to a studio that won't honor them that way.
     
  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ...not always, but certainly in many cases... however, an author is just as likely to screw up the adaptation of his/her book, as a non-author... in fact, perhaps more likely, if not screenwriters themselves, not knowing the best way to transition from page to screen...

    because the terms of the sale of its movie rights did not stipulate that the author was to do it, for one reason or another...

    probably and probably... go watch the movie 'adaptation' for a peek into the process...

    love and hugs, maia
     
  15. Unit7
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    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

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    If any of my novels were to gain that much popularity I would hope that they would try and consult me on certain things. Especially if it was a planned series. Take Eragon for example(yes terrible book and even worse as a movie) but they made so many small changes in the first movie that the second one would be almost be impossible to try and make close to the book. Often the changes were uncalled for and wouldn't have been to much trouble to keep them.

    So I would hope that while someone else was writing it, they would keep me in the loop and take my ideas seriously.
     
  16. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Sometimes the movies are better than the books.

    Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire Assistant. The film is much better than the novel, IMO.
    A Walk to Remember
    True Blood. I know that is a TV series.
     
  17. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    unit...
    contracts trump hope! ;-)
     
  18. Maxtina
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    Maxtina Banned

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    Just like J.K.Rowling says; A movie is very different from a novel. So I guess all the novel writers can do is to help the screenwriters with character and plot information; taking part but not actually writing.
     
  19. Marcelo
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    Marcelo Contributing Member

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    Just saw the new trailer for The Lightning Thief. I'm pretty sure I had a you know what. :rolleyes:
     
  20. Unit7
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    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not my hope it doesn't!

    ...

    Ok so maybe it does.
     
  21. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    my point is that hoping you'll get to write the screenplay for your novel won't make it happen... only putting that condition into the contract when you sell it will...
     
  22. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Maia, he just said the contract does trump hope. :rolleyes:
     
  23. Operaghost
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    Operaghost Contributing Member

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    I actually write screenplays as well as stories novels, so if I think something is better suited for screen then I will write it as such. There are exceptions to this, take David Almond for instance who is primarily a screenwriter who has wrote novels, including the excellent starter for ten which he transferred to screen expertly, but these are few and far between and work only because the author has a clear idea of how this would work on film in the first place. Remember everyone will read something differently so the authors take on a world may actually be completely different to what the studio, or even the audience are expecting, and there are some things in novels which simply won’t work on screen, and vice versa.
     
  24. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    rei... not quite... what he said was:

    then added:

    and i was addressing the 'maybe'...
     
  25. MelissaL
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    Yeah I have to say writing a novel is completely different from making a movie. A good writer knows how interest her readers, a director knows how to interest the movie goers. Books and movies may relate but they are meant for two different groups of people. People who read the books complain that the movies are nothing like the book, but its impossible to be. Directors twist it in a way where it won't bore the ones that had no read the book. I know how you feel though, its very difficult to enjoy a movie when you know the book so well! Look at Harry Potter, those books are so long that they had to leave so much stuff out. Twilight Saga wasn't so bad, but that was because those books aren't as long.
     

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