TCWT Blog Chain: Movies Movies Movies

Hello again — long time no see! I’m sure you’ve missed me terribly, but the good news is that exams are over, I’m full of ideas, and you’re probably going to be seeing a lot more of me! Yay (groans from everyone everywhere)!

tcwt-3It’s that time again — time for the Teens Can Write Too blog chain! This month’s prompt:

“What are your thoughts on book-to-movie adaptions? Would you one day want your book made into a movie, or probably not?”

Yep, we’ve been given a difficult one this month.

There’s something ridiculously thrilling about hearing that your favourite book is becoming a film. I don’t know what it is exactly, but I have some theories, such as that it’s much easier to drag a friend to the cinema than it is to make them read a book when they’re not reading-inclined, and the fact that it getting a film means that it’s not just you that loves it. Whatever it is, it makes you fangirl for a good few hours when you find out (or at least, that’s the case for me).

The problem, though, is that book adaptations never go well — not for everyone, at least. It might be nice to get your friends hooked on a brilliant author and a great film series, it might be interesting to see your favourite characters on screen doing the things that you’ve always loved imagining them doing, but the film isn’t your imagination — it’s not going to be ‘everything you’ve imagined’, even if you’re the one that’s written the screenplay, directed and produced it. There’ll always be something that you don’t quite like, whether it’s the modifications to the ending (looking at you, City of Bones), the insta-love (looking at you, Divergent, and you yet again, City of Bones), or the fact that it’s no longer going to be shown in cinemas in your country (I can’t even bear to look at you, Vampire Academy — and it’s a good job, since I’m unable to). A book-to-movie adaptation is never quite going to be perfect, and when you stop fangirling, you realise that. You realise it, and wonder if any of the emotional trauma is even worth it.

To be honest, I don’t think it is. City of Bones was horrific, Divergent just reminded me why the book was simply enjoyable and not mind-blowing, and Vampire Academy… well, I was perfectly happy with six books and a spin-off series; I didn’t need to know that I was missing a film that, from the small bits I’ve seen of it, doesn’t seem that great. The only adaptation I can think of that I actually enjoyed was Twilight, but liking the book in the first place shows how deluded I was at that point in my life. (Note: I haven’t yet been able to watch The Book Thief, and I am absolutely terrified that it won’t be any good when I do.)


So, onto the second part of the prompt. Would I like my book to be made into a film?

I’ve always thought no, even in my Twilight-and-enjoying-adaptations phase. The idea of someone casting people as my characters makes me feel sick. Writers are very often left to watch the production of their baby in the same way as the fans are — with no control. The idea of someone else deciding who looks most like Harry or Terri or Sash or Elijah, the idea of a person saying ‘oh yes, you act exactly like them’ when they don’t know any more about how they act than what they gleaned from a quick read-through of the script is horrific. Besides which, these people are in my head. They weren’t made to be seen or be tangible. They’re not supposed to be real to anyone but me. To me, having someone play one of my characters would be like someone reading my mind — it’s not supposed to happen. I love my characters for their flaws, for their silly way of thinking, for their fears and hopes and dreams. In my head, and on paper, I can get that across (to some degree, at least). But you don’t get that inner monologue in a film. All you get is their behaviour and whatever the actor can get across in their expressions and the way they do things — and that’s unlikely to be enough (especially when your characters, like mine, are likeable only because their thoughts make it possible to empathise with them slightly). No matter how much the script writer, producer, editor, casting people understand my vision, they’re not me, so they wouldn’t be able to understand it fully. Even if they did, how likely is it to be marketable to a wider audience? I’d say there’s very little chance that everything I understand my novel to be would be something the marketing folks would jump at; something would be unpalatable or too uncomfortable, and the edges would be rounded so that the General Public didn’t recoil in horror. The rawness I love would be thrown out in place of getting more money or a lower age rating, and it would be awful and the exact opposite I could have wanted it to be.

In short: I dislike the adaptations of other people’s novels but I would hate the adaptation of my own.


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28th – – The topic for July’s blog chain will be announced.



7 thoughts on “TCWT Blog Chain: Movies Movies Movies

  1. Good post. You hit upon a difficult point: it’s impossible to please everyone with an adaptation. However, it’s better to make a good movie that pleases fans before they realize the characters’ eye color was wrong, rather than make a bad movie that gets the eye color right but stays too close to the book to make a good show. For instance, the Great Gatsby (the most recent version) stuck like a barnacle to the book, yet it’s not that satisfying to watch, despite the book’s greatness. I would have preferred a good movie that messed up a few minor things than a copy of the book that couldn’t deliver any emotion.

    Good post!


    • I actually loved the Great Gatsby for how well it captured not just the plotline but the essence of the novel (Baz Luhrmann isn’t always the best choice for director, but I think his style was perfect for Gatsby). But I see your point — film is a whole different kettle of fish, and sticking exactly to the book can mean that some things translate badly (the ‘love at first sight’ that you see a lot in books nowadays is even harder to justify in films when you don’t have that obsessed internal monologue that makes you forget that the main character doesn’t actually know whether what the love interest looks like actually translates to their personality, ie ‘the look in his eyes promised danger’ and that kind of thing).


  2. Ha, I agree about Gatsby too. I haven’t read the book yet–don’t shoot me!–but I found the movie to be pretty well done. Dicaprio is always great and the cinematography was incredible, and at the very least it really made me *feel* a part of those parties.

    And I agree with you! I’m a bit more open about the possibility of having my book made into a movie, but I wouldn’t want to force it. Yes, movies are like an instant advertisement for your book, but if it doesn’t look like the movie will work, I wouldn’t bother.

    Also – I too am usually annoyed when a movie changes the ending, but I’m crossing my fingers they change the entirety of Allegiant. And also, while I liked the ending of Gone Girl, they’re changing the movie ending of that too apparently… so I am excited to see what they come up with!


    • Don’t worry, I won’t shoot you — I only read it myself because I prefer to read the book before seeing the adaptation.
      I haven’t read Allegiant yet (don’t shoot me!) and nor have I read Gone Girl, so I don’t know about that but I think it’s important that every scene is relatively similar, not just the ending, though I suppose an alternate ending is probably gonna stick in the mind and be more upsetting than a change to the middle. If I remember right (it feels like years since I wrote this), the example with the changed ending that I used was City of Bones? The ending of that was so upsetting for me not because it was the ending specifically but because changing it (as well as the terribly different characterisation of Valentine that you only truly saw at the end) altered the entire ethos and feeling of the series; SPOILER ALERT knowing that Jace and Clary aren’t related before they know changes your entire reaction to the rest of the series, and having Valentine make up the idea on the urging of Hodge (and placing false memories in Jace’s head) undermines everything Valentine is and makes the rest of the series very hard to accurately portray (eg if the memories were false, Jace’s real father brought him up, and that real father had to be Weyland because a Herondale isn’t going to lie and say they’re a Weyland). END OF SPOILER ALERT but thankfully that shouldn’t be a problem since the film did extremely badly and they’re unlikely to do more than the next one that they already had planned. (Sorry I’ve waxed lyrical; I have many TMI feels).


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