By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund
Recently a student was conducting research on what it's like to be a writer. She sent me a list of questions to answer and one of them was: How would you feel if one of your books became a movie?
Of course my initial thought was, I'd be SO excited!
I think every writer secretly dreams of having one of his or her books made into a movie. At least I have. Actually I've pictured a few of my books on the big screen, especially the books that are inspired by real people. I'd love to bring those heroes¬–especially their wives –to life for our current generation.
Whether we like it or not, the fact remains that many people don't read the book until after they've seen the movie. A film usually generates interest in the book, not the other way around. So getting a movie deal can help push up the sales, even get books onto best seller lists.
Even though writers can and should dream big, including dreaming about movie deals, the reality is that very few books are optioned for movies. Even many that are optioned never actually get made into movies.
So while it's a wonderful dream, I also keep my expectations realistic. I've learned that the chances of having one of my books turned into a film is a very slim possibility.
On the other hand, how many books have you read that you actually liked the movie better? Most of the time, avid readers generally like the book better than the screen adaptation for a number of reasons:
• The book gives us more details than the movie. An author has the luxury of including so much more depth to the story and characters in the book.
• The book allows us to get inside the characters' heads. In a movie we don't get to hear the internal monologue that can help us empathize with the characters better.
• The book allows us to understand the backstory better. We get more information on the character's past which helps us understand his or her current motivations better.
• The book doesn't have to be the Hollywood version. The book can be more authentic than the movie. In fact it's always amazing to me how much gets changed in a book being adapted for film so that it can fit movie expectations.
• The book lasts longer. A movie is quick and over after ninety minutes. It's like having fast-food. But a book is a feast that we can enjoy for hour after hour.
But occasionally I find a movie adaptation that I prefer.
For example, I recently watched Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks. I also listened to the audio book. And to my surprise, I liked the movie better. When I was reading, I had a difficult time being in the "head" of the bad guy–Kevin, the abusive husband. The first few times I was in his point of view, I was fascinated by the psychotic thoughts of a classic woman abuser. But toward the end of the book, I found it dark and depressing and somewhat repetitive. In my opinion, the movie gave a better balance.
Rather than the passive form of entertainment found in movies, books make our brains work, challenge our imaginations, and take us on untold journeys, free our minds, give us fresh perspective, help us live with more passion, teach us lessons about life, and so much more.
Of course, I'd never turn down an invitation to have one of my books produced into a movie! But if that never happens, I can rest in peace knowing that books are "the treasured wealth of the world and the fit inheritance of generations and nations." ~Henry David Thoreau
What about YOU? What book would YOU like to see made into a movie? And have you ever watched a movie that you actually liked better than the book?