"It'd Make a Great Movie" = "I Have Unrealistic Expectations"

This has been bugging me for a while. I see it happen a lot. An author will be interviewed on a book blog or review site, and the author will say, "...And I think my novel would make a terrific movie or television show."

A lot of authors might feel this way. That's fine. But don't put it out there. They may as well say, "...And I have unrealistic expectations" or "...And I think my novel would make a terrific plaque to put up on the moon."

Movies shouldn't even be on your radar. You need to develop a following through your writing. That's how novels are converted to the screen. If they're going to happen, they'll happen. But until then, you need to stop being preoccupied with something that very likely will never happen.

You make novels, not movies. You don't see a lot of directors out there saying how their movies would make great novels.

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So pleased for you, John. Congratulations.
First, great news and best of luck having that script go into production. Fingers crossed!

Second, while it may be apocryphal, an old story in Hollywood is that Michael Blake told his friend Kevin Costner about this script idea he was working on. Costner allegedly pointed at the enormous pile of scripts he was supposed to read and said, "Write a book instead." He allegedly let Blake crash in his guest house a bit, too, while Blake worked on the book.
Blake eventually moved to Arizona where he was working in a restaurant when "Wolves" was published. Bingo, validation! Costner invites him back to H'wood to adapt it and the rest is history.
Like I said, probably urban legend, but I have had people in the business tell me it is easier to get a book published than it is to sell a script (and many times easier than seeing it actually produced). Never forget, scripts are collaborations all the way, from birth until production. And that is a very long path.
Nice going, John. I hope Dirty Sweet gets made.
Authors are dreamers by nature, Ben. This is like telling Woody Allen to stop worrying.
I think some of that attitude or thought process comes from authors because they see in their mind what they are writing. Thus thinking everyone sees it the same way they do, which isn't always the case. When I start writing a story or a book I purposely see my characters as someone I have seen on TV or at the movies. It gives life to the characters. BUT ... does that mean the sotry would make a good movie ... probably not.

A writer of novels should be aspiring to write excellent novels, not to write something with a movie treatment in mind. If you want to be a screenwriter, be a screenwriter and do treatments; you want to write novels, write novels. There is nothing wrong with marketing to different mediums after the fact: film, television, graphic novels, plays, etc. But a novelist should be focusing on writing the novel, not dreaming about a film treatment. Novelist is a career in itself, not an entry-level job to the movies.
A writer of novels should be aspiring to write excellent novels, not to write something with a movie treatment in mind.

But if you're a good writer, and if you are open-minded about the possibilities of what you are writing, beginning as though you were writing a screenplay might almost be like creating an outline---as I said in another post here, it might help with the visualizing. Then you could go back and add more details, etc. Flesh it out. Many writers try a lot of different approaches before they discover the one they're best at. I think if you aspire to write at all, you will just write. Maybe it'll turn out to be a short story instead of a novel, or a screen play instead of a short story!

As you sketch out your ideas, yes.  But then you must decide what you are  writing.  There are writers who write books, movies, games, poetry, and so on.  They work on their ideas and decide for what type of fiction each idea is best suited.

My point was that writing novels is worthy in itself, it is not just an entry into the movie business.

As a reader...I've noticed that the best movies are usually (though not always) made from the less-than-great books, and that if you see a movie made from a book you've really liked, it doesn't always satisfy. So much has to be left out of a movie, and sometimes those are the very things that made you like the book. Omissions, discrepancies, characters that didn't match your image of them, etc. "Adapted" is the operative word.
Of course, if a writer gets to do the screenplay, then that could make a difference---maybe you'd be allowed to have some control over the important elements, if not the casting. I've seen terrible TV or movie adaptations of wonderful books, and vice versa. I've heard writers say that they didn't like the casting choices. (P.D. James did not see Roy Marsden as Dalgliesh, and R.D. Wingfield said that although David Jason was good as Inspector Frost, it was not HIS idea of Frost).
I expect most writers dream of having their books made into movies for two reasons: the money, and becoming better-known. And once you're famous---on the radar---then there will be more readers for future books. Isn't that how it's supposed to work? I suppose a writer could think, "Then my work will be brought to more people," but it won't necessarily be the books, because a lot of people won't read a book once they've seen the movie.
Look at Cormac McCarthy---a really fine writer. But until his books started being made into movies---"All the Pretty Horses," 'No Country for Old Men,"and "The Road," he wasn't well known except in certain circles.
Interestingly enough, "No Country For Old Men" and "The Road" did make excellent films---but they were written almost as though that WAS the authors intention. As soon as I started reading "The Road," I thought,
"This book reads like a screenplay." But also, after the success of "No Country for Old Men," McCarthy knew he could do that. Still, I'll bet there are many who've seen those movies who will never read the books.
Caroline, you are so right. Less than brilliant films have been made of some of my favourite books - The Little Drummer Girl and About a Boy, while I can only take Galsworthy or Henry James on screen. Honourable exceptions that come to mind: The Maltese Falcon and Gone with the Wind.

And I blush to remember in my very first submission letter, suggesting my novel would make a great film...*cringe*

Whisper it quietly, I do think my latest book would translate to the big screen. But probably the nearest I'll get is the book trailer I've just made.
Less than brilliant films have been made of some of my favourite books -

The British often do so well with murder mystery adaptations because they serialize the novels they present---more time to develop plot and character. Instead of trying to resolve everything in a couple of hours, they'll take 6 to 8. Short stories, or "novellas" can also work well as standard-length movies.
FYI, No Country started life as a screenplay before McCarthy decided to turn it into a novel.


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