To Adapt, Or Not To Adapt? (TCWT)

To Adapt, Or Not To Adapt? (TCWT)

The answer to the question in the title? MAKE IT A MUSICAL.

It’s time for my contribution to the Teens Can Write Too blog chain — but first off, a few pieces of housekeeping.

1) I’ve now finished my exams. Forever. My A-Levels are done. I’m still registering this fact — I’ve been done for almost three hours now, but I can’t quite figure out how to feel, and my body doesn’t know how to come down from ultra-anxious mode. But Operation ASNaC is over, and now I just have to wait until August 14th to see whether it was a success.

2) You’ve got until the end of tomorrow (Saturday 21st) to tackle the writing challenge in my last post. Give it a go if you’ve got a minute — I’ve yet to receive any responses, but I know a few people were planning to do it a bit last-minute.

“What are your thoughts on book-to-movie adaptions? Would you one day want your book made into a movie, or probably not?”

This is a good question, not least because somebody stumbled on my post about the representation of Merry in the LotR films the other day, reminding me that I’d written it. I’ve talked about film adaptations before: Lord of the Rings, The Great Gatsby etc.

My attitude towards adaptations has changed quite a lot over the past few years. I used to be invariably disappointed by films of my favourite books, which never captured whatever it was I’d taken from the book. I also used to expect every adaptation to faithfully reproduce the book almost exactly.

However, as time has passed I’ve come to realise that films are not the same thing as books (I know, radical) and stories work differently in different forms. It’s necessary to make changes. The best film adaptations aren’t necessary exactly the same as their source material, but they’re truthful to the message and the feeling of the original. Look at The Hunger Games: it diverges from the plot in order to move beyond the limitations of a first-person narrative, because films aren’t in first-person the way books are, but remains true to the book itself.

I’m therefore a lot easier to please these days when it comes to adaptation*. I’m infinitely more laid-back about it, and I absolutely adore adaptations that aren’t film-based, too. One of my favourite adaptations recently was Hannibal, which takes characters, ideas, and even lines of dialogue or moments of plot from Red Dragon by Thomas Harris and uses them to create a TV series that’s utterly different from the books, yet somehow still just works. And it’s brilliant.

Of course, anyone who has been reading my blog for any length of time will also be aware of my absolute adoration of Hamlet! The Musical, the most irreverent adaptation of Shakespeare’s play that you could come across. It’s completely glorious, filled with hilarity. No, there are no giant herrings in the original play. No, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern weren’t originally written as puppets. So what? It works.

As for my own work, yes, yes, a thousand times yes. Oh my goodness, yes. When I’m writing, I often see scenes like a movie inside my head. It’s not always the case — sometimes it’s the words I get, the description — but when it’s an action scene, that’s almost certainly what happens.

When I write, then, I’m basically describing a movie that only I can see. Which is great fun.

I like to cast my characters, too, although the logistic difficulties of adapting an eight-book series into a film franchise when a large proportion of the characters are immortal aren’t lost on me. I’m aware of that. Someone just needs to find a way to prevent Eoin Macken from ageing (get on that, mad scientists – get right on that). I have a folder on my computer labelled “character headcanons” where I save pictures of actors who resemble my characters, and whenever I’m stuck for descriptions I imagine those actors completing the action, and it helps me write it.

Oh, and that one time I started casting Charley's book (Ikarus) as well.
Oh, and that one time I started casting Charley’s book (Ikarus) as well. To be fair, her Rembrandt and my Fyodor could easily be played by the same actor, so we share headcanons.

Films are a great way of reaching a wider audience, of course — those benefits are obvious to any writer who plans to make a living from the words inside their head. They give birth to fandoms far more readily than most books, and honestly, I would love to break the little shippers’ hearts. (And to play with their morals when ridiculously hot actors are cast as really evil characters, something I enjoy doing.)

That’s mostly all about Death and Fairies. If we’re talking The Quiet Ones, which (for irregular readers) is about a bunch of students who are also knights, I’d say they’d work really well as a more unusual adaptation, like a web series. I mean, they’re about students, right? A TV series would work too — I can totally see that. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t love to see them as a film, but I’m aware of the greater flexibility of that particular novel.

Honestly, I’d love for that one to be out in the world in any form that’d encourage fandom. I live in hope of one day having a fandom for my work — I admire fanfic authors and fanartists to an unbelievable extent, and The Quiet Ones would be great fuel for them. Practically all the characters are queer, it’s essentially a college AU of any of your favourite stories about knights except not because the characters are all mine, and a lot of it takes place in a coffee shop.

So to conclude, then, a resounding YES to adapting any of my work! I mean, I just kind of need to get it out there in the first place, but I consider adaptations to be awesome. It’s a chance to see the pictures someone else saw in their head when they read it without actually having to invent a weird brain-scanning device and kidnapping other readers: what’s not to like? Maybe it’s vain, to want to see other people’s responses in that way, and the assumption that anything I create would be compelling enough to attract fans might be egotistical but hey, believe in yourself, right?

Here’s what everyone else thinks!

5th –
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20th – YOU ARE HERE!
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27th –
28th – The topic for July’s blog chain will be announced.

*I’m still angry about both Eragon and Inkheart. Just no.

15 thoughts on “To Adapt, Or Not To Adapt? (TCWT)

  1. Awesome post. I had the same style of epiphany a while back about movies not being the same as books— I think it’s a writer thing. Your point about musicals, though… I could see my books as musicals. Good thinking.

    I need a link to the Hamlet musical, if you can get me one. Is it a real movie, or just YouTube, or…?

    Great post.

    1. It’s a stage musical but hasn’t been performed in a while. If you use Spotify, you can listen to the whole thing, and it’s still funny, though watching it is better. Alas, ’tis not to be.

      Musicals of everything!

        1. I very much can. I am basically Iron Man (at least, I talk to my computer which is called JARVIS and also I write him for YAvengers) and my whole life is pretty much a musical.

  2. I personally would pay dearly to see Iron Man the Musical.

    Mind you, there actually was a Batman Musical. It was in-universe, and only featured for one scene in a Batman Beyond episode, but it was still good.

  3. One day, in X amount of years, I plan to travel to NYC and watch one of your books being adapted on Broadway. :P

    And I love that you mention THG, because that is certainly one of my favorite adaptions. The movies are unquestionably different than the books, but they are still able to be their own art form and carry the plot in really believable ways with really believable dialogue and a lack of cheesy voice-overs (looking at you on all counts, Divergent). Another adaption that your mention of Shakespeare reminds me of is Patrick Stewart’s “Macbeth” (set in a mental hospital), which I thought was so cool because they obviously diverge from expectations of how Macbeth was meant to work, but they do it so cleverly that it doesn’t even matter.

    1. No, come to London and they’ll be in the West End. :) (I don’t know what’s with my West End bias but I’d choose that over Broadway any day. Particularly for shows like Les Mis which never sound right to me with American accents, ha ha.)

      Ooh, sounds interesting. I haven’t actually seen that — my Macbeth experience is woefully limited, and is causing trouble for St Mall’s 2 where it features prominently, so maybe I can use that as an excuse to investigate it…

      1. Ha, but London is farrrr! Maybe if one of your books gets adapted I’ll make a special trip, but only so I can yell, “I KNEW HER WHEN.”

        And yes! The adaption is a little weird at times, but I thought it was well done and it was certainly interesting.

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