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Tag Archives: Harry Potter

Let’s go to the Movies

Let’s go to the Movies

Now that I’m getting close the finish line with this draft of my book, I’m starting to really think about what might happen next. Ideally it will be published, but that’s not necessarily the end of the road. I mentioned before that I also studied screenwriting in my undergrad career, and I’ve always had one eye on the screen and one in a book. I can’t help but wonder about the possibility of a book getting turned into a film, but when I think about that I realize that I’ve never really heard writers talk about what that means to them.

Since Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings went to the big screen, it seems as if a huge wave of film adaptations – particularly of children’s book – has taken the world by storm. Divergent and The Fault in Our Stars are slated to be two of the biggest movies this summer, not to mention what’s happening with the Hunger Games franchise, and before that, the way that Twilight exploded on screen. All of these franchises were a pretty big deal before going to theaters, but it makes me wonder about the smaller, lesser-known books that are turned into perfectly good movies and bring the words to life in a new way.

When I think of books turned to movies, I don’t think about The Prestige or Blade Runner, or even Fight Club. Those films all stand on their own, and they don’t necessarily drive people back to the book the way that The Fault in Our Stars and the Hunger Games do. Maybe that doesn’t matter so long as the story is being told. But how much does the writer of that story benefit?

The point of all this pondering is just to say that I haven’t really spoken much to writers about how they feel about film adaptations, or if they would ever want one made of their own book. I’m curious to see what all of you think! I can’t imagine it would be easy as a writer to hand over the rights to your story to someone else, who will then write the screenplay. There are people who write both, though. Ron Howard, for example (the creator of Veronica Mars, not the musician), wrote the TV series, then the movie, and now the novels.

My questions this week are threefold:

  1. Would you ever consider allowing a film adaptation to be made of your book?
  2. Would you want to write that adaptation yourself?
  3. How do you think movie adaptations affect the books they’re based on? What if the popularity of the film vastly surpasses that of the book? Does it matter?

For the sake of starting the conversation, I’ll admit that as I’m re-reading my story (and, in fact, whenever I write anything), I think about it on a screen. My writing is very dialogue-heavy, and I think that’s because I’m drawn to screenwriting so much, which is carried by people talking to other people. Because I like to write for the screen, as well, it would be hard for me to let someone else write the adaptation. I hope it would be the kind of movie that would make people want to pick up my book, but if I were also writing the movie, I think I wouldn’t mind if the book wasn’t as popular as the film. Let me know your thoughts below!

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How Do I Look?

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Now that I’ve read through my manuscript a few times I’m starting to notice some little things that I never necessarily thought about during my first (or second or third) pass. I’m going through and carefully adding more layers to all of the characters so that they talk and feel like real people – complicated and varied the way we all know real people to be. During this process I can’t help but notice what may or may not be a big issue: I never described what my main character looked like.

I mean come on. There are illustrations.

I tell it from the first person perspective, which is I think what caused the oversight. Everyone else in the story has an entrance scene or a moment of reflection where they are described. But the main character? No such opportunity.

Now, I took diligent notes during school, so I definitely have the tools to describe my protagonist – she could be looking in a mirror, for (clichéd) example. But now that I’m really thinking about it, I wonder if I need to bother.

I have often toyed with the idea of not really describing what people physically look like unless it reveals something about that person’s personality or the way that he or she is feeling during a particular scene or time period. It comes from my personal desire to imagine whatever I want when I’m reading – maybe I want to envision a character with curly red hair and a limp! What’s that, you say? He’s 6’5” and athletic with frosted tips? Well, now I’m all messed up. I find that when I read I like for the personality to speak for itself, in a way – to paint the physical appearance of the character on its own. The #1 most upsetting thing for me when I see movie versions of films is that the actors often don’t look like my mental image of the characters they’re playing – it really throws me off. Especially when the author of the book paints a specific picture of what that person is supposed to look like. (I mean, short Ron Weasley? I know they casted him when he was like eight years old, but still. I’ll never be over that one.) So I guess while I was writing I just didn’t get around to describing Grace, my main character.

Is this what you were expecting?

And I’m thinking that it doesn’t really bother me. What she looks like just doesn’t matter. Not really. Maybe the little things – nails bitten down way too far, hair in desperate need of a trim, etc. – can be mentioned as manifestations of her anxiety and depression. But the color of her hair? Her height, weight, facial features? I don’t mind leaving that up to the imagination. I don’t mind everyone having their own little version of her.

So the question I’m hoping you will all help me with this week is this: Do you feel strongly one way or  the other? Have you noticed the physical descriptions in your reading? If you were to read something without a description of the narrator, would you be distracted by that? Or confused? Let me know what you’re thinking in the comments below!