(Yes! Two posts in a short period of time! Look at me, I’m creative!)
I’m sure you’re all eager to hear my opinion on Britney’s “womanly space” (as Furonda from America’s Next Top Model so charmingly called it), but something else has taken my fickle fancy.
The book-as-movie, or the book-to-movie, or the “My book would make a great movie!”
It seems to me this is a question that really separates the men from the boys (yeah, I’m sexist that way), or the writers from those interested in playing the Published Author Role-Playing Game (TM).
I don’t write movies. I don’t ever sit and think, “Who would play my characters in the movie?” In fact, I don’t model my characters on particular actors either (although I do have a hero who bears a slight resemblance to James Franco. Sheer coincidence, and the resemblance is only in my head–I didn’t use that as a visual clue for the readers, because I consider that rather cheap–but there it is. Mmmm. James Franco. I digress.)
It always confuses me when people talk about their books as movies, or who would be in the movie, or “My book would make a great movie!” Because I just don’t think that way. I write because I love to read and I love to write.
I love to read and write in all different sorts of formats. I love ebook and print books and comics and graphic novels–and I love the visual storytelling of comics and graphic novels, but I still don’t read those as “If only this was a movie”. Comics and graphic novels don’t need to be movies (although they tend to translate well) because they’re already visual. They’re art. They can do things movies can’t do.
I think what bothers me so much about the “movie fixation” is it implies a desire to lose ownership of one’s work. It implies the book itself is not good enough, that a story must be on a movie screen for it to be legitimate–in the author’s eyes. It’s as if they don’t think writing books is good enough, and that makes me sad.
(BTW, don’t get me wrong. My theory on books-as-movies relating to my own books pretty much follows Stephen King’s–give me the money and do what you like. The books are still out there, in the form the author intended. I wouldn’t say no, believe me. I just don’t see the desperate appeal of such a thing.)
I wonder, if you’re writing with a movie in mind, are you really writing the book you should be writing? Or is some subconscious part of yourself thinking, “Don’t put that, it wouldn’t work onscreen”? Are you failing to commit to your book because somewhere in your mind it’s really a film?
Perhaps this is why agents tend to list “My book would be a great movie” as one of their big turn-offs? Perhaps even if the book is good, that phrase implies the author is not committed to writing as a craft and an art form? That they view a book as a stepping stone, and not a finished product on its own.
Commit to your work. You’re writing a story for people to read, whether it’s a plain book or a picture book or a comic book. Stop worrying about the peripherals.