You will know what I am talking about, if you have read these books and seen the movies (sure, you have):
Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park and the Lost World (and almost all of his novels)
Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy
Rowling’s Harry Potter Series
Neil Gaiman’s Stardust
CS. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia
I think 5 samples are more than enough. You may already notice the patterns.
Now, let’s assume, you are writing a novel (or a series), and some Hollywood movie maker is dying to see your work on-screen; if so, consider my following advice:
Don’t bother to give your novel a title. Hollywood will change it anyway as it should be more “American”.
Don’t bother to describe your protagonist as a clumsy and messy not-much-to-look-at. Chances are good that they don’t have an actor matching your description. They do have an abundant stock of good-looking ones. Add to this, they love stories like the Ugly Duckling, Frog Prince, or Cinderella. With the make-up crews ready to do magic, it’s easier to wrap a prince with peelable frog skin than to find a frog who can turn into a prince. You know what I mean, . (see what they’ve done to Charlie Cox! And Radcliffe, I think, is hardly Rowling’s description of Harry Potter)
Be cautious about naming your hero. Just follow the rule of thumb. Don’t choose Budri and Intran instead of the normative Budi and Intan. (Remember how cruel they are to Gaiman’s Tristran)
Do limit your character numbers. Too many,they will delete them mercilessly, like Tolkien’s Tom Bombadil and many major characters of Stardust.
Don’t bother to chronicle your series. The most alluring book is to put on-screen first despite its place in the series. (The Hobbit, The Magician’s Nephew, The Horse and His Boy can wait, can’t they?)
Don’t bother to put an artful illustration for your book cover. The movie stars will cover that for you, ha ha (Please understand that Orlando Bloom as Legolas is more attractive than an abstract drawing)
Oh, you haven’t written the third book, while the movies of the first two were box-office hit. Don’t worry, don’t bother to write it at all. The third movie will come out soon no matter what. Later you can write a book based on the movie. ha ha ha. (Imagine a novel called Jurassic Park III!)
Think again about closing the book with a sad ending. It’s okay if you leave a clue about a sequel. Otherwise, it’s easy for them to twist it by the last minutes to a happy one.
Now about the whole plot. The most important element of all. Don’t even think about it. Why? You know why. Hundreds of reasons. They’ll improvise the plot, and the result often leaves you open-mouthed.
No plot, no book of course. You stop writing. Again, don’t worry. Wait until the film comes out, and you can always write the book based on the movie, like I said. (The Star Wars Trilogy, if you really need a proof)
Well, Earth’s calling you. Go back to now and here, your feet your imagination. Thank you for joining me in this make-believe. I hope you enjoy reading this blog as much as I am writing it.
I wondered why some writers let the movies going astray, some of them even being the producers themselves. Did they care about their own books, their original ideas?
(Of course I excluded Tolkien and Lewis in this case. The movies of their books were out posthumously)
Here I quote an interesting comment from Raymond Chandler (1888–1959), U.S. author.
“If my books had been any worse, I should not have been invited to Hollywood, and … if they had been any better, I should not have come.… They don’t want you until you have made a name, and by the time you have made a name, you have developed some kind of talent they can’t use. All they will do is spoil it [the book], if you let them.”
Put that Hollywood business aside, I made myself a rule:
Never spoil a book by seeing the movie first.