Books to Film – Tips for Hollywood

Film adaptations of books are all the rage at the moment. Sometimes the end product is excellent, other times you leave the cinema wondering if you read the same book as the director.

1. Don’t make massive changes to the character.

Cover of "Queen of the Damned (Widescreen...

Cover via Amazon

The Vampire Diaries seemed to pull this off okay. They made a lot of changes to Elena, her hair colour, her family etc. It still worked because the TV series kept the tone of the original books.

2. Don’t re-write history.

Queen of the Damned is a great book but I was left stumped after watching the film. I was mildly skeptical before seeing the film at how they were gonna pull it off. The original book seemed far too complex to fit into the media of a film. It turns out that it was! I remember watching the film and thinking `Is this even the same story? Did I read the book wrong?’ I felt this way after reading Blood and Chocolate, having seen the film first.

3. Keep the original tone.

Again The Vampire Diaries did this, as did Twilight and Northern Lights (an excellent Philip Pullman book).

4. Don’t make it too flashy.

I haven’t read the original books of a lot of films. I’m sure there are far more films that are adapted from books that we really are aware of but one thing that really stands out is when a good character book is changed into an action movie. If you are going to adapt a book to TV or film, then make sure it’s one that:

a) Will work on-screen.

b) You want to keep close to the original – (There are exceptions to this. I.e. True Blood).

Of course some things may have to change when you adapt something to another type of media but don’t make it so different that it’s unrecognizable unless you’re really good at it.

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