Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Script vs The Novel

This image was done by one of the very talented followers of this blog (xxCammyLoverxx). I've always wished I had the ability to create visual images. I don't, but I'm glad she does! When the Random House website for Sammy gets updated, I hope we'll have a gallery wall where reader art can be displayed. Anyway, thanks CammyLover. You are very talented! Onto news: It almost doesn't seem fair, but I received a couple of bound galleys for Sammy Keyes and the Wedding Crasher this week. That’s right, I, who already know what happens, have the "book", and you, who are having bad dreams about it, don't. Sorry! (I'm having anxiety over some of your bad dream comments -- what if after all this time you don't like it. Argh!) Anyway, for those of you who don't know exactly what a bound galley is, basically it's the paperback pre-version of a book that will come out in hardcover six months down the road (and subsequently come out in actual paperback a year and six months down the road!). Bound galleys have mistakes in them (sometimes a lot of mistakes), and their purpose is to give critics, book reviewers, and the like plenty of time to read the book and write a review timed to (approximately) coincide with the books release date. I have never been an official book (or movie, or, you know, any sort of) critic, and I don’t think I would want to. I love the critics who love my work, and I'm annoyed with the ones who pick-pick-pick; especially the ones who don't seem to get the larger picture of what I'm trying to accomplish. So maybe I don't accomplish it with them. Maybe I shouldn't care. But I'd be lying to say it doesn't sting when I read something negative about a work I've poured my heart and soul into for a couple of years. I've never actually been slammed by a reviewer, but I have felt misunderstood. And helpless. I mean, there's no rebuttal to a review. It's that critic's opinion. And it's printed and read by how many people? And what gives authority to their opinion? They aren’t required to obtain a critic’s license (or even a learner's permit!). So what qualifies them to criticize the work of others? Maybe they should write a book and see a) how hard it is to finish, and b) what it feels like to be critiqued. Well, I've been having a pretty eye-opening experience these past few weeks. Sort of a girl-in-the-mirror thing. I may not ever have been paid to be a critic, but that doesn't mean I'm not a critic. How many times have I said, The movie wasn't nearly as good as the book! Lots. Either they left out my favorite parts, or they put in things that just seemed so unnecessary, or they cast it so completely against my vision of the characters that the movie just didn't work for me the way the book did. And I always felt completely justified in rendering my opinion. But for the past few months I've been studying the form of screenplay writing. I've read books, scripts, etc., because I think my upcoming novel The Running Dream would make an amazing movie, and I would like to at least attempt to put my vision of how it "should be done" in a form where it might get considered. So I've been writing the script. And what I'm writing differs, in parts, substantially from the form of the book. Whole scenes that are never seen in the book (because it's a first-person narrative) are written as real-time scenes in the script. And some of the scenes take place in a different order. It has been fascinating for me to see the necessity of making changes, and it's given me a newfound level of appreciation for the skill required in converting one art form into another. That doesn't mean that I no longer think that Hollywood ruins stories by adding hackneyed scenes or removing parts that contribute key character development. It does. What it means is that I now appreciated how different the forms are, and how challenging it is to work within script-writing parameters. Not everything from the book is going to make the script. It just can't. The question becomes: What to leave out without losing the integrity of the story? It's a tough call for the author to make because everything in the book is there because you felt it was necessary for the story. In the movie Flipped, there is no Champ. There is no "Mystery Pisser". I loved Champ. I loved the name of the band. I loved the little "P.I.P" grave marker in the backyard. (And if you don't know what I'm talking about, I guess you'll just have to read the book.) None of it's in the movie. Rob Reiner explained: "There just wasn't room." I was okay with that before, but I get it now. Bottom line: I think all authors should take one of their books and turn it into a script. It's an eye-opening, educational experience. One that will cause you to think twice before criticizing the movie.

20 comments:

sammy4ever said...

AAAAAHHHHHHHAAAAHHHHHHAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!

sammy4ever said...

okay, now that i'm done screaming i can type my thoughts.....
YOU HAVE BOUND GALLERIES OF WEDDING CRASHER?!?!?!?!?!
if i didn't love you so much i would be mad.
but i'm not. because you're the author, you already know what happens, blah blah blah.
i think i'll become a critic just so i can read your books before they're actually published and everything. i would give your books a million stars out of five and i would write really long reviews that would state how much i love your work. that's my dream job. *sigh*
you wouldn't believe how many times i've said the movie wasn't as good as the book. like for harry potter and the half blood prince, i thought the movie went by so fast because of all the stuff that was left out. but to people who actually didn't read the book, it was a really long movie.
my great uncle was a movie writer and he explained to me how when changing a book to a movie, you kinda have to "butcher" the book a little to keep it within a reasonable time frame. and besides, movies would be boring if they were exactly the same as the book, word from word.

sammy4ever said...

oh, and check out my sammy keyes fan blog; i made a sammy keyes and the dead giveaway quiz (for fun) and i attempted to draw sammy and heather (from the doodle buddy app on my iPod i might add)

SelphieFairy said...

I remember J.K. Rowling made a comment about the movies vs. book thing, too. Basically, she said she understands the need to change and/or cut things when a book gets made into a movie. Movies have *restrictions.* They have a limit on how long it can be. They have to stay within a budget. They are limited by who decides to audition and the amount of talent they have. And probably a bunch of other things most of us wouldn't know about unless we seriously decided to enter the film world. And then she said that's why she prefers books, because the only limit you have in writing is your imagination. (:

Stefunny said...

I'm planning on directing one of your books turned movie. I wrote you a letter about this about a year ago and you thought is was rather rad, so I'm sad to hear about you letting all these other people make your books into movies.

I just hope you're still writing books when I'm out of film school and standing on my film feet. I'm going to come find you. You don't even know :)

Me said...

Hopefully no critics will hate your book. I bet a lot of people would chase them down.

xxCammyLoverxx said...

Thanks for using my picture! As you can see, I have way too much time on my hands. Spring break is in like four days, so we'll see whatever picture/story/idea I plot up by ythen. I'm weird.
But anyway, is WC going to be hardcover when it's first published or paperback? I dont know why but I prefer reading hardcover books, but that's just me. I also agree with Sammy2Ever.. the Harry Potter movie was, indeed, an epic fail. I don't read the books (and never will. No offense to J.K Rowling..) but I watch the movies and the latest one was just strange. Same thing for Twilight. As me and my older sister say... it was an 'epic failure, to infinity and beyond”. The movoies completely ruined the books. I'm not even excited for Eclipse like I was for new Moon (let's just say, me and my friends made t shirts with Taylor Lautner saying “Team Jacob” and had people at school sign them saying what team they were on.. I got a lot of “Team Bieber” [from the girls] and “Team Megan Fox” [from the boys])
And I don't have much time here, so that's all I'm going to say.
Bye!

Pooja Dimba said...

I agree with you about critiques. They can be so mean sometimes. Like for example they insult books that move and inspire people... its they're opinion. And ones opinion can affect other people not to even read the book.
Its so mean.
I can't wait to watch FLIP or read SK#13
Its gonna be awesome!
:)

Jinnyd said...

OooooooooOOOOOooOOOooohhhhhhh it's getting closer..... sigh. What's left to do in the six months before the release date? Or is it just left to the critics to make awesome reviews so they can come out when the book comes out?

I think that it's a little funny how we're told not to be "picky eaters" as kids and then some people grow up to be food critics. It's like they're getting paid to be a "picky eater".

Miss K. said...

I recently had a discussion with a friend regarding movie adaptations of books. Some script writers manage to work with the book very well. "Holes" and "The Kite Runner" are two of the best book adaptations that I have seen. Of course, Louis Sachar did help write the script for "Holes" which I'm sure helped substantially.

Of course I do realize that there is a time constraint and that certain aspects of a book (such as first person perspective) cannot be conveyed on screen, but as long as the script writer remains true to the heart of the story and to the characters I do not have a problem. An example, in my eyes at least, of not staying true to the story/characters is "Ella Enchanted."

Of course, as I say this, I haven't the experience of trying to write a script. However, that is my two cents on the topic.

clararoxlol said...

i love your books wendlin van draanen. for a while i thought cold hard cash was the last one because losing these books would be like losing a best friends. :)

Purple Monster said...

Okay, I saw the Percy Jackson movie, and that is living proof that the book is A LOT better than the movie. I bet half the theater didn't even read the book!!! Anyway, except for the title, plot, and charcters' names, the movie was NOTHING like the book! And when this occurs, it's very disappointing to the fans that actually read the books. So, what I'm trying to say is, the movie may not be like the book, but the readers will know what DOES happen. That is disappointing, though. :( No Mystery Pisser!!! Waaah! :(

Dohickeyjr said...

The only thing I am wondering if the 17 books have little clues and hints in them that will all tie together and add to the regular mystery in book 18.So double the mystery for the last book.

StarKid777 said...

Love the drawing xxCammyLoverxx. Anyway I read all the Percy Jackson books and loved them. I was so excited for the movie, but I talked to a friend and she said watching the movie wasn't even worth it. I have tried to imagine certain book scenes as a movie but it's really hard especially when it's in first-person and you can't have the characters thoughts in it.

Levina said...
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Levina said...

Oh and I think turning SK into a movie would be ah-maz-innng...

Levina said...
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Levina said...
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Levina said...

WOOOOOOOOOOH!

*reigns herself in*
That is SO COOL! It must be AMAZING to write the movie of your book!

I figured out a long time ago that there are things that have to change between books and movies. Sometimes when I'm reading a book, I think, 'How would you show that in a movie?' You can't, that's the answer. And there are things in movies that you can't write in books.

i.e. if an Indiana Jones movie was turned into a book, I imagine it would be fairly boring. Most of the 'action' in the movie would translate to 'waste of ink' in the book.

Also, with movies you can view several characters at once. That's a good thing; focusing on one character for an hour is not as exciting. But if you're trying to establish a connection-like, make the reader feel that the character is real-you can't just randomly switch the focus to a bunch of other characters. It makes the reader feel detached. And it's annoying. (Or is it just me...?)

Plus, if your character is someone who does not allow his/her emotions to show on his/her face, then most of the time in the movie you would not know what he/she is feeling, which you could have done if you were reading a book.

One more point! In books you can cause weeks or even years to pass with the beginning of a new chapter or just a few words, but how do you show a few select events that take place over the span of a few months in a movie? Unless you keep flashing a "___ weeks later" sign?

(side note: have you noticed that us patriarchal society members tend to write 'his/her' instead of 'her/his?' It's so deeply ingrained that we put men before women, even in this supposedly anti-sexist, racist, and homophobic era! We should invent a new word that means both 'her' and 'his!'

This world is HIERS!)

Okay, I think that's enough ranting. It's midnight or something and I have to got to school tmrw. So toodaloo!

Levina said...

Wow I posted 5 times...I forgot I already wrote here before, sorry.