Inanity · Writing

A Book’s Worst Nightmare

book horror story

Having your book converted into a movie would be a dream come true, right? Just think of all the publicity, the wonder of seeing your characters brought to life on the screen,  the people who would come rushing to buy your book to see how it compares with the movie… aaaaaaand that’s where the dream comes to a screeching halt and becomes a nightmare.

After the initial euphoria fades away, you start to think about all the worst-case scenarios: actors you dislike might get chosen to play your characters (I don’t know what I’d do with myself if Kristen Stewart came anywhere near the set), the script writers may decide that your most favourite scene in the book is not worth their time, or worse; they might strip your book from its original ending and give it a brand new one. Yikes.

Let’s look at this from the perspective of the book itself. I will use my book as an example. Puppet Parade receives a movie deal from one famous director (for argument’s sake, let’s go with Tim Burton) and is over the moon – they want to turn it into a movie star! Puppet Parade signs all the necessary paperwork and in its giddiness misses the fine print. Mr. Burton invites it to all the casting auditions. It nods appreciatively at the performances of Emma Watson and James McAvoy. What does Mr. Burton think? Does Mr. Burton want it to look at the script too? Mr. Burton smiles politely and tells Puppet not to get its papers in a twist and just enjoy the fat paycheck it had received.

James McAvoy emma watson

Puppet puts its complete faith in Mr. Burton; after all, he has made many good movies. It goes home and busies itself trying out new typesets and meeting with designers for a cover to wear to the premiere! How exciting. The days come and go and soon a trailer is released. Puppet waits for YouTube to load and rubs its sleeves in anticipation. Then… hold on , where did Kristen Stewart come from? Where did Emma go? Why are they sexing up the shy Sophie (the MC)? I count… three, four… five puppets! Where are the remaining five? Did… did they take out Beauty? This is wrong! This is all wrong! I will give Mr. Burton a piece of my mind!

Mr. Burton thanks Puppet for its feedback and points it to the fine print – “Puppet Parade will not be entitled to make any decisions or claims regarding the Puppet Parade movie, and that is final.” Puppet despairs and contacts a lawyer,  but the lawyer tells it to just smile and look pretty. The premiere rolls around and Puppet forces itself to smile at the cameras and wave at Mr. Burton like they where chums and amigos when it only wanted to give him a thousand paper cuts.


The movie starts and Puppet placates itself. It doesn’t look too bad. At least the effects are amazing. At least they got James McAvoy to play Oliver. At least the costumes and make-up and sets are pretty darn spiffy. At least Andrew the Annoying Ass is funny. At least Entertainment looks absolutely fabulous. Then Puppet sees the ending and has an epileptic shock. The ending is different. People who saw the movie compliment Puppet on the fabulous story, but Puppet only wants to say, “This is not who I really am!”

… of course this has all been exaggerated to get my point across. I’m sure Mr. Burton is a nice man who would not trick poor unsuspecting authors like this, haha. But… perhaps I should stop worrying about this because it is unlikely that my book would get turned to a movie in the first place!

In all seriousness, if by a stroke of luck you signed up for a movie  deal, would you not be miffed if the script writers and directors altered your story so much to the point where the book and the movie only shared a name? Would you worry that people will like the movie more? Are they any book-to-movie adaptations that you thought were completely dreadful?

And don’t forget, you can still enter to win a $15 Amazon Gift Card or a copy of Puppet Parade here!

32 thoughts on “A Book’s Worst Nightmare

  1. In an ideal world, the movie would mirror the book – much as the first Harry Potter did. But life’s not like that. Remember the original Italian Job? It wasn’t written as a frivolous British romp – but a hard, gritty gangster movie. My debut novel ‘A Construct of Angels’ is set in York and I have (ocasional) nightmares that it would be bought and re-sited in NEW York.
    Yes, it would be disappointing, but with the number of zeroes that would end up in my bank, I could probably live with it…and write comfortably for the rest of my days 😀

    1. Oh don’t get me started on Harry Potter. The first two movies were good, but the third one was just plain bad… which sucks since the 3rd book is my favourite. But I suppose those zeroes would make up for it, yes. 😉

  2. So funny! I think if I ever gave up the movie rights to a book, I would walk away quietly with my check and never look back. I want nothing to do with it. As John Green says, “Books belong to the readers.” Once I have given my book to the world, it is no longer mine, and I lose all control over it.

    1. You’re a better woman than me! I can never just turn a blind eye to what they’re doing. Even if the book doesn’t belong to me anymore, I still will be the one most affected by it, no?

  3. Frankly, if anything I wrote ever got turned into a movie I’d be too ecstatic to care about how well it turned out. After all, a ropey adaption wouldn’t change the original story.

    1. But they do change things a lot in movies. For example, the ending of The Mist (a movie based on a book by Stephen King) was changed dramatically, and I liked the book’s ending a LOT more. It’s not fair when script writers make such changes. =/

  4. I shudder at the thought, lol. Editing is hard enough with all the cutting and what not. Then to turn it over to some “hack” of a screenwriter who’s only in it for the money? lol…And people wonder why I self-publish to begin with.

    Seriously though, I have written two stories now that I’ve already envisioned in script form. One of which started out that way but I turned it into a novel in order to tell a fuller story. I would love to produce them myself but we’ll see how that turns out – seeing as how I have NO film production skills what-so-ever. Should one of my all time favorite directors ever offer to buy the movie rights, you can best believe there will be certain things I’ll want negotiated into that contract – for example, I get a real vote on casting choices and final script. Any changes once filming starts have to be approved by me as well. Think they’ll go for that? lol

    1. Self-publishing does offer one a lot of freedom in terms of what they can and should not include in their novels, and such a freedom should not be taken for granted!
      Well as much I as wish to tell you that they will go for that, I think you might be better off finding a lawyer or something who’s pretty good at negotiating. 😉

      1. It wouldn’t bother me that much if they made my one and only published novel into a Porn Flick as long as it made millions! Granted, I do have my Artistic Pride, but it would be a nice change to eat white bread once in a while….with jam.

  5. I would be really excited it would be a movie but definitely nervous about who it would turn out, some adaptations just work and others don’t. I think it’s really hard to know if it will or won’t, hopefully you find a team you can trust. But I’m sure the money sweetens things 🙂

    1. It’s tricky to do that, because I feel that directors and script writers wouldn’t want a high-strung writer breathing down their neck! But the money does help, yes. xD

  6. “I don’t know what I’d do with myself if Kristen Stewart came anywhere near the set”—Haha! I hear you. She may be a lovely woman in real life, but I find her a rather expressionless actress.

    I guess the best one can hope for in this situation is that people read the actual book and see that the movie was not the author’s creation.

    1. I’m glad to hear that there’s someone who agrees with me! It’s not just Twilight; she seems to be like that in many of her movies.
      Unfortunately, with how most people seem to prefer to watch the movie rather than read the book, I don’t know how much one can hope for. D=

  7. I’d hope the screenwriter and director were truly passionate about the book, and stayed to the characters and themes of the story. This would be unlikely in most circumstances, but real collaboration would be my ideal.

  8. I guess, if my book were ever by some insane chance to score a movie deal, I’d have to take a hard look at whatever contract they wanted me to sign and make sure that I have, in writing, the right to interject with my creative input. I’m actually really inspired by Cassandra Clare — she’s been extremely involved in her book-to-movie adaptation — she helped with casting, was on set for a couple of weeks, gave the actors tips on portraying their characters, etc. etc. That’s what I’d want to do … if the director would let me 🙂

    1. I would want to be involved in the movie making process too. The key to that is reading that contract carefully and making sure one doesn’t miss anything, haha.

        1. Now the trick is to find an agent who’d be willing to work with you… something most of us have difficulty with!

  9. I’m in two minds as well, Zen. If any of my books were turned into movies I’d want to be standing next to the director! LOL 😀 Apparently a lot was left out of ‘The Sixth Sense’ when it came out and these were the authors ‘favorite’ parts 😯

    1. Me too! I want to make sure everything goes how I like it. I’m fine with changes as long as I approve them. xD And really? I actually did not know The Sixth Sense was originally a book. It would be interesting to read it and catch the differences!

        1. Ohhh. xD Well that makes sense. Though in essence, the script writer who writes an original script is like any other writer out there. I’m sure they would hate for their work to be changed too. =[

  10. I love your writing and wit, Zen 🙂 You really had me laughing at your imagined scenario. Rest assured, I’m sure when your wonderful novel will be made into a beautiful movie, they will do justice to it (you may want to insist that you write the screenplay…. just in case!) 😀

    1. Thank you, Letizia! I’m glad you appreciate it. And I really hope they do. But to be on the safe side, I will hover at the script writer’s shoulder… and read the fine print!

  11. I know exactly how you feel!

    I always have dreams about what the movie counterpart would look like. From all my fantasizing I have come up with a solution; be the screenwriter!

    The movie industry is a very fascinating world that I’ve always wanted to be a part of. Ever since I watched the Oscars when I was 10 years old, I dreamed of receiving that golden man.

    I actually want to take a scriptwriting course, so that when the time comes, I would be the one to write my story’s script (even if I have to write with somebody with more experience for a bit).

    Another way is to become an executive producer, like Rowling and Meyer, so that you have a little more control than nothing at all.

    Another extreme would be the director yourself! I love movies and I love the art of movies; it’s just so friggin’ fascinating!!!

    My career counselor even told me, when I was in high school, that I should become a movie director! Thus it is meant to be! Who knows? Maybe I’ll be the director to your story one day! 😉

    1. It would be awesome to be a part of the Oscars, I agree. And becoming an executive producer is not a bad idea at all! I know JKR took part in the casting process, and the cast couldn’t have been more perfect.
      Haha, if you ever direct the movie adaptation of my movie, I would be honoured!

  12. So, you worry beforehand… As they say in Portuguese, “probably we were baked in the same tray”. I don’t know the equivalent in English. 🙂

Talk to me! I won't bite. Unless you're made of chocolate, then I promise nothing.

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s