From Page to Screen

Whenever I am truly passionate about a book, I hope it will be adapted for the screen. I want to see the story unfold visually and the characters interact.

Then when it does come out, I can’t wait to see what choices have been made. There’s so much to evaluate.

  • How successfully have they cast the characters we’ve come to know and love?
  • Have they captured the essential tone/feel of the created world?
  • Which aspects of the narrative have they emphasized or discarded?
  • Have they maintained the Core Thing, whatever it is, that we love most?

And so on.

Sometimes, the changes made to the story are smart, and we go home happy enough. Sometimes, they’re downright unfathomable, and we go home sputtering about, say, the unnecessarily added character or incredibly absurd ending.

No matter what, I enjoy pondering the relationship between the original and the adaptation. Sometimes, they seem like different things altogether. Case in point: Charlaine Harris’s wonderful Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampire Mysteries. Anyone who has read the series then watched True Blood is aware of the epic variations between the two, particularly in storyline and tone. And yet, they are both very satisfying in completely different ways (I liked the books better, of course, because #books4ever).

All of this raises the questions: what are the books or series you love that you’d like to see adapted? And whom would you cast as the leading characters?

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13 thoughts on “From Page to Screen”

  1. Books and screen are such different media that i’m always inclined to cut some slack when things don’t turn out as I expect. I want introspection in books, and splash and dash on the screen. Thrillers and suspense seem to translate the best from page to frame. Perhaps because of the action component. Romances and mysteries, sometimes because the internal life is so hard to depict. Which isn’t to say that the movies aren’t fabulous, and equally satisfying, but they are different. Recently read an article that said Ryan Gosling got the part in The Notebook because no one else wanted it. I laughed out loud because I can’t imagine anyone else so effective in the part.

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  2. I agree with Kait that book and screen are very different. I often have to prep myself by remembering that the same story can look completely different on the screen. But I still want the core story to be there. That’s why I loved the Lord of the Rings adaptation. There was a lot cut, true – but it never would have translated well to to film. But I’d love to see someone take a crack at Hank’s Jane Ryland books (although I have no idea who’d play Jane).

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  3. Love this post, Cynthia!! Stephen King’s Dark Tower series tops my list since I’m curious to see how others envision Roland and his world. Station Eleven, Rosie Project, and Name of the Wind are a few others. I always find adaptations of books incredibly inspiring–the characters and plot that started as mere ideas in one person’s head brought to life on the big screen…Talk about passion!

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  4. This is soooo timely–last May I sold the film rights to the Detective Emilia Cruz police procedural series and a TV series is being discussed with potential production companies. I posted a link on my Facebook page questioning if Gina Rodriguez (Jane the Virgin) should play Emilia Cruz and got 57 new page likes in a single day! I constantly write with various actors in mind, but alas, will not have casting approval.

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  5. Oooh, I’d love to see Robert McCammon’s Matthew Corbett series adapted. I just love the pre-Revolutionary James Bond feel. But the casting would have to be spot on. Someone wirey yet powerful needs to be Corbett. Hmmmm.

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  6. When I worked as a YA librarian, I had an eerie sense about the books that should be turned into movies. For example, I knew that Twilight was going to be a major hit in the theater, which is why I was so surprised at how low budget it started out.

    I’m currently reading an Amazon imprint mystery called Ghost Gifts and I keep imagining Chris Pine as the main male lead.

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  7. Tim Hallinan writes a series set in Bangkok that I love. Unfortunately, MY image of Poke Rafferty does not match Tim’s image of Poke Rafferty. If he wrote about Poke’s physical attributes in the first book or two, I missed it. When I finally read a description I had to read it twice to be sure I was reading about the same character. I’d pictured a Brian Dennehy, Dan Blocker, teddy-bear type. Tim was writing a more of a Don Knotts, Ken Watanabe, small and wirey type.

    You provided me with a fun morning, Cynthia. Thanks.

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  8. Hank’s series did get optioned. I’m currently re-reading Adrian McKinty’s The Troubles series. Colin Farrell would make a good Sean Duffy, James Nesbitt would be Inspector Brennan, Aidan Gillen would be one of the bad guys, Domhnall Gleeson would be Inspector McCraven.

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  9. Usually I like the books better than the movies, but sometimes a movie impacts me more when the setting is stunning. So, I’d like to see either of Judith Van Gieson’s series on the big screen! Carmen’s Detective Cruz will make a great TV series!

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  10. Books and film are very different. They each have a unique audience with only a little crossover. I always try to read the book first, but some of my friends do the opposite. And some do one or the other exclusively. There is something for everyone.

    To me, film tells a visual story — if it can’t be portrayed on the screen, it’s out. That means no unspoken opinions or reflections, and no mental agonizing over “plot” elements. I see the environment. I see the action. I see the characters as they move from place to place. Yes, I hear the dialogue in film, but the story is driven by the visualizations. In film, one has to catch the whole action the first time. The plot has to be compact, clear, concise, and understandable, The audience cannot go back to pick up a detail they have missed. The action moves on in order to wrap up in a 90 to 120 minutes.

    Oh, and I sometimes am “disappointed” that characters who are so real in my mind, look and sound so different in film (both physically and emotionally).

    A book, to me, is an “auditory” medium. It reads to me in my head. I “hear” the dialogue; I hear the thoughts of the characters. I hear the tension in their voices. I imagine their appearance from the descriptions of others. A book encourages the reader to “fill in” what is absent from the narration. If I wonder about some subtle detail in the plot line, I can always flip back through the pages to find it.

    If I have to choose only one medium, I choose the written word, (But don’t tell the people I know who work in the film industry!)

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  11. What a fun topic! I watched True Blood before I ever picked up one of the Sookie Stackhouse books and I was so surprised at the difference in tone! It’s not a mystery, but I’m reading Euphoria right now. I bet it’d be a great movie.

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