A Celebration Of Adaptations – Teens Can Write, Too! June 2014 Blog Chain

tcwt-3[1]This month’s 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?

Excellent questions. The thing is, all books are different. My opinion on book-to-film adaptations isn’t set in stone, because I think some adaptations are more likely to succeed than others. For a variety of reasons.

For example, some stories are just more cinematic than others in their genre. Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment by James Patterson would make a superb movie, what with all those action scenes and cliffhangers. A good example of an action-packed adaptation which has already been made is The Hunger Games or Catching Fire.

Heart of Darkness, on the other hand, would probably not make such a good movie. It’s a truly stunning book but focuses very very heavily on ideas, not action. It’s a very philosophical book – and I bet it’s difficult to translate that into a film, because long scenes filled with deep thoughts don’t hold an audience’s attention as long as action sequences do.

A second factor in determining an adaptation’s potential for success is its faithfulness to the original book. Obviously, fans of the original story don’t want to be disappointed, but I also think keeping an adaptation as similar to the source material as possible also helps the movie to make more sense for those who haven’t read the book.

I mean, authors know what they’re doing. They’re trying to tell a coherent story, one that flows and makes sense. When film adaptations rearrange the order of events or delete some scenes entirely, that can affect those movies negatively. Consider Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – lots of things were cut, such as the scene in which Sirius gives Harry the two-way mirror.

No big deal, right? Well, in the final two movies, the mirror turns up with no explanation and is actually very important to the plot! I’m not asking for every last little detail to be exactly as described in the book but whenever I hear that authors are directing/advising an adaptation of one of their books, I feel better because I know they won’t cut crucial scenes left and right.

The third and final factor is length – the reason I really can’t blame whoever made Order of the Phoenix for cutting that scene. It messed up later movies, but hey. It can’t be easy to make movies out of such long books. It’s impossible to cram in all the scenes, or even most of them, or even all of the absolutely necessary scenes.

Some book-to-film adaptations suffer simply because the plot is too long and too big to fit comfortably into one movie. So we’re left with something incomplete.

…or the adaptation is split into multiple parts. First Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, then Breaking Dawn, The HobbitMockingjay, Allegiant, and who knows how many more. Sometimes this works. Sometimes it doesn’t. In my opinion, the final two Harry Potter films were much more accurate to the original story than their predecessors were because more time was allowed for the plot to develop.

The Hobbit, though… meh. I love the book, and the first two movies certainly have their share of great moments, but there have also been far too many scenes that made me go JUST HURRY UP, ALREADY. I WANT TO SEE THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES!

Long and/or complicated stories have another, better option, though – and I think sometimes we forget about it. TV shows! Adapting a book for TV allows much more time to explain the plot. For example, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s works have been successfully adapted into Sherlock and Elementary (as in “Elementary, my dear Watson!”).

"Don't worry, dear. This will be a GOOD adaptation! Even if I die in it. Plus, TV shows are free. Unlike movies..."

“Don’t worry, dear. This will be a GOOD adaptation! Even if I die in it. Plus, TV shows are free. Unlike movies…”

My favorite example is Game of Thrones, adapted from George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. Those books are ultra-long and probably would’ve failed miserably if made into movies. I’m only half-joking when I say that the best way to make a decent movie out of those books would be to have a single character (say, Ned Stark) speed-reading aloud a list of the story’s main events.

When adapted into seasons of ten episodes each an hour in length, however, the story works superbly. Consider book three, A Storm of Swords. It was too long to be adapted into even one season, so they made it two, and the pacing has been phenomenally good. The final episode of season four airs tonight, meaning you can now watch the third book for twenty hours in a row if that’s what you like.

And that’s all I have to say about adaptation of other people’s books, so I’ll now move on to the final question. Would I one day want my book(s) made into a movie?

I DON’T KNOW. It depends. On a lot of things.

On one hand, I’d love to see one of my stories reimagined onscreen. And it would be super cool to know that something I wrote was popular enough to make people want an adaptation. And because most of my stories have queer protagonists, there would be more LGBTQ+ representation in the media. Anyone has read my blog for a while knows how important that is to me.

But on the other hand, I think I’d worry about potential failures. Not commercial failures – failures as in, “This is NOTHING like my book!” I feel protective of my stories, OK? I would want as little as possible changed. And I’d probably be upset at first when casting time came because I often have very specific mental images of what characters look like.

However, if I thought someone would make a truly terrible adaptation from my stories then I just wouldn’t let them in the first place. Authors have to sign off on that stuff, right?

Or I could be involved in the filmmaking process. I could advise the producer, or co-screenwrite, or play a small role. Actually, I think I’d like that third option. I’ve always wanted to try acting.

So, there you have it. I have a lot of thoughts about book-to-film adaptations, possibly because I’m looking forward to so many of them: The Giver, The Maze Runner, Mockingjay Part One, and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. What are your thoughts about this topic?

P.S. If you want to read more of my ramblings, one of my earlier posts is about movies and the quest for originality.

Want to follow our blog chain? Here are the participating parties, day by day:

5th – http://nasrielsfanfics.wordpress.com/

6th – http://theloonyteenwriter.wordpress.com/

7th – http://sammitalk.wordpress.com/

8th – http://thelittleenginethatcouldnt.wordpress.com/

9th – http://insideliamsbrain.wordpress.com/

10th – http://maralaurey.wordpress.com/

11th – http://charleyrobson.blogspot.com/

12th – http://taratherese.wordpress.com/

13th – http://theweirdystation.blogspot.com/

14th – http://fairyskeletons.blogspot.com/

15th – https://musingsfromnevillesnavel.wordpress.com/

16th – http://novelexemplar.wordpress.com/

17th – http://magicandwriting.wordpress.com/

18th – http://mirrormadeofwords.com/

19th – http://www.brookeharrison.com/

20th – http://miriamjoywrites.com/

21st – http://eighthundredninety.blogspot.com/

22nd – http://unikkelyfe.wordpress.com/

23rd – http://missalexandrinabrant.wordpress.com/

24th – http://www.butterfliesoftheimagination.weebly.com/

25th – http://erinkenobi2893.wordpress.com/

26th – http://turtlesinmysoup.blogspot.com/

27th – http://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com/ (We’ll announce the topic for July’s blog chain!)

About nevillegirl

Elizabeth. University of Iowa class of 2019. Triple majoring in English & Creative Writing, Journalism, and Gender, Women's, & Sexuality Studies. Twenty-one-year-old daydreamer, introvert, voracious reader, aspiring writer, and lesbian. Passionate about feminism, mental health, comic books, and cats.
This entry was posted in Books and Reading!, Harry Potter, Nevillegirl's Adventures!, Non-Neville Posts, Teens Can Write Too!, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to A Celebration Of Adaptations – Teens Can Write, Too! June 2014 Blog Chain

  1. matttblack42 says:

    Great post! Completely agree on TV adaptations I think any book over eight hundred pages should be required to only be adapted into TV shows (or at the very least, be split up into multiple movies). There are two books and one series by Stephen King that I think would make an amazing HBO show/miniseries, but it’s probably never going to happen. *cries*

    Also, I can’t wait until the GoT season finale tonight. My brother, who hasn’t read the books, watches it with me and it’s hilarious seeing his reactions. I’m pretty sure he was suffering from PTSD after The Mountain vs The Viper episode.

    • nevillegirl says:

      Which Stephen King books, may I ask?

      Pffft. I thought I might be able to watch it last night because the hotel probably gets HBO… but I was busy until really late. Oh, well. Eventually I can watch it and scream TYRION I HATE YOU.

      • matttblack42 says:

        The Stand, It, and The Dark Tower series. Although that last one might be tough, because characters from King’s other books make appearances, which will probably cause a lot of confusion.

        I liked the episode, but I was disappointed by that scene. It could’ve been a lot better, I think.

    • nevillegirl says:

      That makes sense – The Stand is HUUUUUUGE. Dude.

  2. Miss Alexandrina says:

    Great! I love all of your points, so true.

  3. Miriam Joy says:

    If only TV shows were free. Game Of Thrones (and Hannibal, among other TV adaptations) air on Sky over here, which you have to pay for. I guess it’s like cable for you guys? So I have no choice but to watch things illegally if I want to watch them at all.
    Agreed on The Hobbit. Too much unnecessary divergence from the plot.

  4. Excellent post! I love all your points. Adaptions definitely should be considered on a case by case basis.

    I forgot to write about acting in my own post but I’d also love to have a minor role in the (future) film of my own books!

  5. Liam, Head Phil says:

    Good post. I think you’re right— there are some things that fall into some formats, and some books just don’t. I’m sure someone has made a Heart of Darkness movie, and it probably turned out pretty horribly. Making Game of Thrones a TV series was definitely the right move as well.

    Good post!

  6. John Hansen says:

    God, I just commented about Game of Thrones on your other blog post, and now I’m going to end up doing it again. But… ugh, Game of Thrones is the perfect adaption in my eyes. They take some of the world’s longest books out there (apparently A Storm of Swords is 400k words) and manage to completely compress them while still keeping the essence of the story, INCREDIBLE dialogue and pacing, and amazing characters who aren’t difficult to keep track of despite how numerous they are. And even though the adaption sometimes falters–I agree with the comment above that the Tyrion scene in the finale was not emotionally powerful as I think it could have been–I don’t think I am ever disappointed with an episode, which is saying something.

    As for Ned Stark reading aloud the movie’s events, I’m not sure if I’m allowed to publicly comment about this because spoilers, but… I’m now picturing a certain weapon being held above his head and slowly lowered as he reads. 😛 #DownWithTheStarks

    Also, since you mention queer characters, I’m really curious about what you are writing. Do you have a blog post or something around the interwebs that briefly talks about what your WiPs are?

    • nevillegirl says:

      Oh god, I didn’t see this comment until now! My bad!

      Anyway. I agree about the Tyrion scene – both deaths lacked something, I felt? I thought the book’s scene was better. But I loved the part with Varys at the end. Just the look on Varys’ face, and the music right then… it was chilling.

      Ooh, yes. I second this. xD

      I don’t, actually. I probably should write a post about my WIPs… anyway, what I’m mostly working on right now is an as-yet-untitled story about assassin/spy people and there’s flashbacks and two girls falling in love and I’m having so much fun with it. Like, it’s partially cute and partially dark. Weird combination, I know, but I enjoy it.

What do you think? Share the musings from your navel!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.