The Book is Not Always Better

(Just kidding, it is.)

For the TCWT blog chain, the prompt is:

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

I like this topic, because it’s very broad and I can go in almost any direction I want, providing it’s not to the right. There’s a giant needle sticking out of the wall on my right side, and I’m trying to avoid it. Anywho…

Life is rough for book-to-movie adaptations. Not only must they be able to stand on their own two feet as a movie—a completely different type of entertainment than a book— but they also have to put up with all the die-hard book purists that throw a fit over every minor change.

(Note: I am occasionally one of those diehard book purists. Example: The Shining.)

I think we need to stop being so hard on these, poor, misunderstood movies. Directing an adaptation is like being forced to walk on a tightrope above Niagara Falls*, except on one side of the rope, there’s a bunch of crazy book-readers shouting “YOU’VE RUINED THE WHOLE SERIES!” and on the other side there’s a bunch of snobby movie critics saying things like, “I feel like this movie caters way too much to the fans of the book, to the point where it doesn’t stand on its own as a movie. Also, not enough symbolism, and the juxtaposition between motifs was a bit clumsily done. 2/5 stars.” And if the book in question is a young adult novel, then the critics will undoubtedly compare it to Twilight or Harry Potter, no matter what it’s about.

It’s a lot like basing a movie off a cartoon from the nineties, except with those you have people complaining “YOU’VE RUINED MY CHILDHOOD!” because as it turns out, it’s possible to destroy someone’s entire childhood simply by making a bad movie based off a show they used to like. Who knew?

I think people need to remember that a movie is completely different from a novel, and that some things that would work well in a book would look terrible in a movie. For example, Daenerys Targaryen is only thirteen when the first book of A Song of Ice and Fire started. Things would not have gone well if the producers behind Game of Thrones hired a girl who was actually thirteen to play her.

With many adaptations though, it can be frustrating, because some books have so much potential to be great, but the people producing it are clearly out to get you, and are intentionally making it terrible just to piss you off, so it seems. Why can’t they let me write the scripts for all the adaptations I’m interested in? It’s so unfair.

That being said, if some sketchy looking guy with a sketchy looking suit and tie came up to me and asked my permission to make a movie off of my novel, I’d probably say yes, because a movie is basically just one big advertisement for your book. If a trailer looks good, all the book-snobs watching it will think to themselves, “Quick, I need to read the book before this comes out. This way I could complain about how disappointing the movie is.”

Even better would be a book-to-TV adaptation, like Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead. Speaking of which, HBO really needs to write a mini-series for The Stand, by Stephen King. Just saying, I think it’d work out well.

Sorry if this post is a bit scattered.

Now click on the links below for the rest of the blog chain!

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

*I saw a guy do this once. It was amazing.

17 thoughts on “The Book is Not Always Better

  1. I am wearing a black t-shirt that says “The Book Is Always Better”.

    I saw the email notification of your new post.

    I almost had a heart attack.

    The stalkee can’t stalk the stalker!!!

    1. But can the stalkee pay another stalker to stalk the stalker? Or could he pay a stalker to stalk the stalker stalking the stalker? Tis’ the question.

  2. Books are definitely better but I’m a big movie goer. The let down with movies that have been adapted from books is that they have to fit it all in to a couple of hours, of course. If only audiences had the capacity to expand their concentration spans we might not have to put up with stupid sequels like H.Potter 5 and 6 or was it 4, where the words ‘to be continued’ cross the screen. Nothing makes me madder – okay maybe a few things but in relative terms it’s really annoying at the cinema.
    I was watching a J.K interview on You tube the other day where she was talking about sitting in on one of the first H.P movies and reading the screenplay. Anyway there was a scene with Dumbledore on the 9 and 3/4 station with Harry where he was going to reminisce about a past lady love and J.K had to turn around and tell the screenwriter that Dumbledore couldn’t possibly say that because he was gay so they omitted his speech. I suspect that it must be extremely hard for a directer to represent what’s in the author’s head up there on the screen in any accurate form. Still, if anyone wants to make a movie from a book I’ve written, I think I’d be doing handstands regardless of how it turned out!

    1. I think it was the seventh Harry Potter film, where they split Deathly Hallows in half. Though I never saw the sixth film, so it may have been that. When the audience’s limited concentration spans become a problem, I always find myself wishing they made it into a TV adaptation instead. There are several long books I’ve read that I think would make a great TV mini-series.

  3. You made some awesome points. Great job!
    The only movie I really complain a lot about is The Lightning Thief. It was a major wash out. Maybe the producers did it on purpose…. Haha!

  4. Okay, this post is my favorite. In one review I was reading of The Fault in Our Stars, the critic managed to be even more pretentious than Augustus’s dialogue in the beginning of the book, because obviously it’s a competition. And don’t even get me started about all of the passive-aggressive lines they are able to drop about YA in general. I swear it’s a gift they have.

    But the fans are, I think, even worse. People have freaked out over the actor being one year older than the character, which is probably the most minor thing possible? But I guess those things matters to you purists. 😛

    The Shining… I haven’t read the book, so maybe I’ll just go buy the movie.


    (I am just trying to trigger book purist rage because I have no heart.)

    Great post!

    1. It seems like bashing on YA is considered a cool thing to do amongst pretentious movie critics. One guy referred to The Hunger Games as a “kiddie flick,” which made me punch a wall.

      Worst of all, it seems like the people who consider Young adult novels as poorly written or light fluff are the ones who haven’t actually read much of the genre. They just base their opinions on the 2-3 books they’ve actually read.

      No! Read the book, it’s so much better. I usually understand and support the changes movie adaptations make to the source material, but here there were so many moments that could’ve worked great on film, and the director cut them out and/or changed them for who knows what reason.

      And thank you, kind sir.

  5. Weeeell, in some cases, the movies are better than the book. Take Coraline, for example. I didn’t really like the book that much at ALL. The movie was WAY better. They didn’t follow the book exactly…but dang. Whoever thought of those adaptions needs a hug. And a high-five. And then maybe another hug. The same also goes for Howl’s Moving Castle…it was an okay book, but the movie was WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY better.
    Just saying.
    Loved your post, though. I can imagine it would be hard to be in the movie business…

  6. Oh, gosh, I think I might at times fall into the snobby movie critic pool… 😛
    A fair number of the books I’ve read have come from enjoying the films first – that was how I first started reading Harry Potter, for instance – but I’d never rush to read a book simply because a movie of it were coming out (unless I were partway through the book).

    1. I think we all act like snobby movie critics every once in a while. It’s human nature.

      I’m mostly the same way. I only started reading A Game of Thrones after watching the first season of the show, though I’ll usually read the book first.

  7. Good post! I think I agree with you, although you didn’t make your opinions as clear as others in this blog chain. Directors definitely walk a fine line between upsetting the critics and upsetting the fans— but honestly, the fans are more irrational. It’s wiser, I think, to make a good movie that upsets a few fans than to make a bad movie that doesn’t upset the fans but still is a bad movie.

    Good post!

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