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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!

Did You Get My Text?

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I used to own this phone in grey!

Now that I’m over halfway done with the revisions of my draft, I’m starting to think about some of the smaller nuances in the novel that might need some fine-tuning. One of the biggest issues with my story was that the main character needed a way to stay in touch with her old life after she moved away. The only way I could see to accomplish this was by having her reach out to her old friends via technology – texts, e-mails, and so on. The answer seemed simple enough, but when I sat down to start writing those moments I found myself fumbling for a way to write in the use of technology without being clunky or obnoxious.

I’ve seen this done a lot of different ways with a lot of different results. I could just insert something that looks just like an email looks on your computer screen, with e-mail addresses and time stamps and the whole deal. Or I could just have the text of the e-mail in italics. Or I could do a multitude of other things.

Meg Cabot has a few books (Every Boy’s Got One, The Boy Next Door) where she does technology to the extreme. These books are essentially compiled email and/or text exchanges. I enjoy them a lot, but I find myself a little frustrated whenever I read them because I want more. Whenever the characters step away from the their computers and actually interact with each other, Cabot’s readers are left in the dark. Her commitment to telling the entire story via technology-based interaction means that every other form of narrative in her story gets left out. I still love those novels – they’re great beach reads if you’re ever looking for something funny and light – but I’d be lying if I didn’t say they felt like they were missing something.

There are television shows today that are representing technology really well. Sherlock, for example, uses texting in a really brilliant way – it’s both relevant and essential to the story, and only serves to further the narrative. In a totally different genre, The Mindy Project also uses technology in a way that isn’t distracting and adds to the story, and the characters use it in a very realistic way. Replicating that without the visual of a television screen may be impossible, but I think there’s something there.

This week, my question for all of you is a little more complicated. How do you represent the use of technology in your writing? Or, what have you read that integrates technology in a really helpful way? Let me know in the comments below!