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Dreaming of Books Being Made Into Movies


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.

Not only would it be rewarding to share about some of history's greatest women, but I also realize (like most writers) that getting a movie deal would be an excellent way to generate interest in my books.

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.

Yes, usually I like the book better.

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.

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Overall, fans tend to enjoy the book better. Even my dyslexic daughter who has trouble reading, said she liked the Twilight books better than the movies because there was so much more substance and explanation in the books.

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?

22 comments:

  1. Well, besides your books, I'd love to see Never the Bride by Cheryl McKay and Rene Gutteridge become a movie. As I was reading it I kept thinking this would be a fun movie. I did a little googling after I finished the book and there was talk of it becoming a movie a few years ago but I don't know if progress has been made.

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    1. Aw, thanks Deanna! :-) I've learned by watching other writers, that garnering interest in your book for a movie is pretty tough and that even when interest is shown, it's still a long shot to getting it to the screen.

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  2. I would love to see my own books made into movies. I don't even know if I'd care much how successful they were, so long as I liked them and I got a rocking musical score to go with it. :-)

    As for enjoying a movie more than a book? The Three Musketeers. I'm not sure what it was, exactly, but the book left me feeling a little cold and underwhelmed. Movie adaptations have fired my excitement far more.

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    1. Paul, I agree, at this point, if my book was optioned for a movie and actually filmed, I doubt I'd care if it was for the big box, TV, or cable! It would be so exciting!

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    2. The music would be the most important part for me. Something I could listen to again and again, and know someone created it to evoke the feelings I tried to put into my book.

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  3. That's funny about Safe Haven. I also watched the movie recently and told my hubby the same thing--I liked the movie better. Though I tend to like a lot of stories by Nicholas Sparks better as movies. I think they make the characters more relatable. There are several classics that I've enjoyed as movies as well. Last of the Mohicans, Count of Monte Cristo, among others. It's interesting to see a tangible representation of settings or details that are sometimes hard for me to picture on my own.

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  4. Almost always the book is better than the movie. I have always been a big Jane Eyre fan and have watched almost all the film adaptations. However, I always like the book better.

    Also (this might sound odd) Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory with Gene Wilder is much better than the book. I read the book to my little sisters and was surprised to learn at how much detail the movie added to the story.

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  5. Stories start as movies in my head before I write them down, so this is a useful reminder to me that I need to ADD depth to my ideas to make the reading experience better than the movie would be. When creating characters my goal is to make them so interesting that top actors would fight for the chance to play that role, so book and film are intertwined in my mind even if I'm never offered a movie deal.

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  6. Hi Jody! I completely missed Thursday and we're nearly into Saturday here,but better late than never!

    As a general rule, I always feel that the books are better than the movies, but I must confess there are a few books that I have just recently read,that I wouldn't mind seeing turned into a movie.

    It goes without saying,that I would love to see your books made into movies and I know I would enjoy them immensely. I am sure it depends on the type of book and how well it is portrayed as a movie,to be a success and historical books certainly hold a great fascination for me. I can't get enough of them!LOL.

    A few examples that also spring to mind are
    Tammy Alexander's, "A Lasting Impression" and "To Whisper Her Name" and Judy Miller's, "Pullman Series" would also make wonderful movies and I really hope they come to fruition.

    I enjoy the classics particularly Jane Austen's books and yes..I do have all the dvd's in that series.:-)

    Thanks for another interesting post Jody..you've set the cogs turning.LOL

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  7. I do like most books better than the movie versions, especially Circle of Friends by Maeve Binchy. On the other hand, I liked the film version of Nicholas Sparks' A Walk to Remember better than the book. In the book Jamie almost seemed like someone's grandmother, but in the movie she seemed more like a regular teenage girl.

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  8. I would love to see one of my books on the Hallmark channel! I actually liked Lord of the Rings (the trilogy) better in movie form. The sets were so lush, and it just made sense on film!

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  9. Most of the time I'm not super thrilled with movies of books I like - sometimes horrified. In the case of "The Princess Bride," I actually think they are equally good, having both been written by William Goldman; the movie seems more like the final version and the book the penultimate, but the author's voice is what makes the book so spectacular.

    Truly, "Jaws" the book does not have the same thrill as the movie, and the affairs do not improve the storyline (to my way of thinking).

    I could see Laura Frantz's "The Frontiersman's Daughter" as a sweeping epic like "The Last of the Mohicans."

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  10. I loved the movie Pride and Prejudice featuring Keira Knightley but I did NOT like the book by Jane Austen, at all.

    But still sometimes I'd rather read the book than see the movie and sometimes I'd rather see the movie than the book. :)

    P.S., you spelled movie wrong in your last paragraph where you wrote, "...an invitation to have one of my books produced into a move!"

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  11. I recently read "The Hunger Games" trilogy and saw the first movie. I didn't actually like either the books or the movie because of the subject matter and the complete lack of hope. Interestingly I found the book to be much more graphic and violent than the movie. I suspect that the movie could not reach the level of violence of the book because they needed to achieve a particular rating to be able to market it to their primary audience. Also an author can write a scene and leave enough to the reader's imagination, but a movie must always be visual. When your subject matter is that of "The Hunger Games", the movie makers really had to leave a lot out.

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  12. Redeeming Love. Still waiting for that to be made into a movie. I have only ever liked the movie better than the book for one title--Blood and Chocolate. The movie was incredible. The book was... okay. I enjoyed this post, Jody and yes, I totally dream of my books one day being on the big screen. =)

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