This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
It’s no secret by now that I love adaptations. As a fan of both mediums, a great book to film adaptation is like someone had a peek inside your imagination and projected it onto a cinema screen. And certain elements of a great book just lend themselves to working really well on the big screen. After all, a great story is a great story, however it may be told.
But as more and more film rights are bought for some of our most beloved novels, are books becoming a gateway to a film deal, rather than just a great story in their own right?
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In author interviews, I often see mention of ‘Did you have any celebrities in mind when you wrote the character?’ and as an aspiring writer myself, the thought has of course crossed my mind as to what my book would be like as a film (I love adaptations so it's sort of a given!).
From a business perspective, of course publishers want to make as much money as possible out of the novels they take on. It makes sense then that a ‘filmic’ book may be more likely to be acquired than one which simply would not work as a film. Does this mean then that if someone were to write a great novel that was compelling, interesting, had great central characters and everything else you would expect from a masterpiece, but would not work as a film, would it be ignored?
For those who have read Life of Pi or Cloud Atlas, both of these stunning pieces of literature seemed unadaptable. That Life of Pi went on to win the Booker prize (Cloud Atlas was shortlisted) and both were adapted into stunning films is irrelevant. If you look at the books in their own right, they both present immense difficulties for anyone looking to adapt them for the big screen.
So, it begs the question, if a book such as these – complex and interwoven – were to arrive with an agent or publisher today, would they still want to take it on? Are books today being taken on for their film-rights potential rather than simply on their own merits?
When a book is made into a film, it sends more readers to the original text – just look at the incredible sales enjoyed by Scholastic when the first Hunger Games novel was adapted for the big screen. It could mean, though, that in the long-term, having a film counterpart may detract from what the book achieved as it is now part of a larger package.
Do you think adaptations are watering down the joy of a great novel? If you are a writer or author, do you write with a film adaptation in mind? As ever, let us know in the comments.