1. Rechan
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    Rechan Member

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    Movie Novelization/Francise books: Writer Hell?

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by Rechan, Jul 3, 2011.

    For the first time I really looked at the "Movie Novelization" section of the bookstore. And for the first time I really saw all those "Star Wars" "Star Trek" novels. As well as smaller franchises like "Buffy" "Supernatural" etc etc.

    My question is, what is the motivation for the authors to write these books?

    Is it a way to build up a "writer cred"? Is it a shortcut to get your material into an existing franchise? Is it a quick paycheck? A love of the franchise?

    I can see a "love of the franchise" for die hard Trekkies/SW fans. But, who writes movie novelizations? (For that matter who buys them?)
     
  2. hiddennovelist
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    hiddennovelist Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have a couple movie novelizations. Granted, they're not one of the books that I want to pick up over and over, but sometimes it's fun to read them and picture the movie in my head the way I would like to have seen it acted out.

    I wouldn't run out and buy all the movie novelizations I could find, though...only if I really loved the movie.
     
  3. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    They sell well. A lot of the books in the Star Wars series, for example, are written by authors who had already established themselves with novels of their own and are approached by company that has the rights to Star Wars to write a book in that universe. Despite the connotation made by the OP, there is nothing wrong with writing these books, or with the authors who write them. Some of them are quite good (and others, of course, are not so good).

    One writer I know, for example, who writes for the Halo brand (and does a nice job of it) had his own published novel before ever doing these kinds of tie-ins, and his first novel was on the ballot for the Nebula Award and was a finalist for Best Science Fiction Novel of the year by another awards group. In other words, he wasn't some unknown, unpublished guy doing tie-ins to make ends meet.

    The novelization for 30 Days of Night was written by Tim Lebbon, who had many of his own novels to his credit long before the novelization and is a good writer (Bram Stoker Award winner; August Derleth Award winner).

    Alan Dean Foster did the first Star Wars novelization and was already an established science fiction writer at the time, and has since done a ton of media tie-ins/novelizations.

    I think, Rechan, your understanding of these types of books and who writes them is rather limited.

    I'll buy a novelization if it is written by an author I already know I like. They're often better than the associated movie.
     
  4. WriterDude
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    WriterDude Contributing Member Contributor

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    How often have you seen a movie you loved, waited for a sequel and discovered it was really bad? Far too often, I would think. We can discuss all day long why this is, but books based on a franchise is often an easy way to make great sequels for the fans of the movie. I have several books based on movies and video games, with books based on Resident Evil as a highlight. A book based on a movie or video game franchise is often written by a well-known author, and if he/she gets the time he/she needs and can take a few liberties with the franchise, the books can in many cases be even better than the movies. Yeah, you heard me.

    Take Nightmare on Elm Street: Dreamspawn as a great example. It's not just a great book based on Elm Street, but it's a great book. Period. The problem is there's a rather short prologue where a girl is tormented by her father (not sexually, thankfully) and Freddy shows up. But after that, Freddy isn't even mentioned in the entire first half of the book, and he doesn't show up until the last few chapters. If that had been a movie, it would last about two hours, and Freddy would show up in about fifteen, twenty minutes in total. Yay... It wouldn't work as a movie t all, but it's excellent as a book.

    Same with Friday 13th: Church of the Divine Psychopat. It's based on Friday 13th (logically), but Jason isn't even in most of it. Or to be precise, he's off-screen for the most part. When he does show up, it's mostly "lala, walking here, no harm.... f***!" and runs off or dies. And Jason's back offscreen for an hour or two. It doesn't work in a movie, but it works great in a book.

    And that's the point. Books based directly on a movie hardly ever works (with some exceptions, like the Indy movie-novelizations and comic books), but books based on a franchise can work great.

    And then there are Freddy vs Jason vs Ash. It was supposed to be a sequel to the movie Freddy vs Jason. The script was ready, actors hired and movie about to start shooting, but it got cancelled in the last second for some idiotic reason. As a result, it was turned into a (pretty good) comic book instead. ;)
     
  5. Ellipse
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    Ellipse Contributing Member Contributor

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    According to what I have read from various sources on the net, it is a good way for new authors to get a foot in the door. It is also a good way to make some quick money if you are fast with your writing since those franchises will often sign a contract with an author to write several books related to the series.

    Franchises like Star Wars and Forgotten Realms have a 'core' set of authors. They are the ones everyone wants to read. The franchise then hires lesser known authors to write for them in hopes of capitalizing on the bigger names since they write in the same story universe.

    Have you ever really paid attention to the sales of the Star Wars books? Regardless of the author a SW novel will be on the bestseller list for the first week. After the first week the novel pretty much disappears as far as sales are concerned, unless it was written by a big name author.
     
  6. Ellipse
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    Ellipse Contributing Member Contributor

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    If they had Bruce Campbell play Ash, I bet it would have easily been better than Freddy vs Jason.
     
  7. WriterDude
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    WriterDude Contributing Member Contributor

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    Bruce Campbell is Ash, don't worry, just like Robert Englund is Freddy Krueger and Kane Hodder is Jason. Don't worry about that. ;)
     
  8. Rechan
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    I can understand this in terms of franchise novels, but I was under the impression that a movie novelization pretty much followed the movie script faithfully. Hence if the movie is bad, then the book is sort of written into a corner based on what can happen.

    I've read several franchise novels myself. I'm just wondering how the process works/why people write them.

    Sure, Star Trek/Star Wars is going to be popular because it has a big core following. Also, because of this, I presume that the authors are serious business. But that doesn't explain the less popular franchises.
     
  9. Gigi_GNR
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    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

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    I have never understood novelizations. Never really liked reading them, either. If I want to know about Star Wars, I'll watch the movies, not read the novelizations.
     
  10. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    The novelizations are one thing, but the other novels in the Star Wars universe, which aren't based on any of the six movies, elaborate on much more of the universe across tremendous spans of times. So for people who are really fans of Star Wars, the stories in those books are interesting and, of course, can't be obtained from the movies.

    Even with a novelization, you get more information through exposition, greater depth of character, etc. It's just an inherent superiority of the written word, imo. I've read a couple of pretty good novelizations of movies that weren't really good at all.
     
  11. Gigi_GNR
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    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

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    Well, yeah, i think those other books are important too. The novelizations are the ones that drive me insane. Bad example I guess. :p
     
  12. lemurkat
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    lemurkat Senior Member

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    These ones based on the franchise rather than the original movie - isn't it just like a published form of Fanfiction?

    I have always by-passed them in the libraries, but one day I might cave in and read the Dr Who/Torchwood ones.
     

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