The Book Was Better

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books to movies

“The book was better.” HA!

It seems like there’s an over-abundance of prequels, sequels, and remakes coming out of Hollywood these days. (Can you believe they’re remaking Dirty Dancing?). In the last 20 years or so, Hollywood has been buying the rights to YA (young adult) books in hopes of bringing the characters to life. And really, who wouldn’t want to see their favorite book on the big screen?

I read this about book-to-movie adaptations: it’s not easy to fit a 300-400 page book into a 2 hour movie. As much as we may hate it, there will likely be cuts. I always hope the author will have enough input with the screenplay to minimize cuts that might compromise the story.

I read The Maze Runner series by James Dashner before it was announced they were making it into a movie. Once that news was out, I kept abreast of details like casting. When Dylan O’Brien was cast as Thomas I was skeptical, so I started watching Teen Wolf on TV. In Teen Wolf, O’Brien plays a main character. Ultimately, I fell in love with the show and his acting.

Another detail that concerned me is that in the Maze Runner books, Thomas and Teresa are telepathic, although only with each other. When I heard the telepathic angle was omitted from the movie, I wasn’t happy about it – at first. Director Wes Ball said he cut the mind-reading to make the movie more realistic. I ended up loving the movie and I’m actually glad they took out the mind-reading aspect.

There are some movies that stick to the books and end up creating the perfect adaptation. I had read the back of the book If I Stay by Gayle Forman. When I heard it was going to be a movie, I wanted to read it. I love the premise because it’s different: A family gets into a car accident and the teenage daughter is in a coma. The book is about her being ‘out-of-body’ in the hospital. While out-of-body, she sees the people there to support her. She recalls significant memories but she’s faced with a choice: let herself go or stay. In the book, there’s a scene where her grandpa is talking to her while she’s in her coma. He tells her that if she needs to go, he’ll understand. I cried (I tend to get emotionally invested) and when they recreated the scene in the movie, I cried even more. To me, that’s one sign of a good adaptation.

I recently read a list of books that are being adapted for the big screen. I found my favorite series, The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken has been written into a screenplay! I am beyond excited to see if it really does become a movie. Here are a few up-and-coming book-to-movie adaptations that I can’t wait to see because I loved the books:

Allegiant by Veronica Roth
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. I can tell from the trailer there have been some big changes but I still think it’ll be a really cool movie
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
The Death Cure by James Dashner

So is it true that “the book is better”? I’ll answer it like this: The book is the raw, hardcore original, and nothing can take that away. But many times, bringing the book to life enhances an already awesome story.

More Than One Main Character

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random characters

Can your book have more than one main character? That’s one of many questions we asked ourselves when writing Changers.

A lot happens in Changers. The story is deep. But Changers is not a complicated story. The main player has to make a decision whether to kill the person she loves to save her own life. Nice premise. Scary dilemma. But in Changers, there are other players (teenagers) who have been damaged in one way or another by the shenanigans of the Changers. These other players are trying to find out what happened to their loved ones. Like, why are they disappearing? Why are they still missing? Are they dead?

The teens are frustrated with the adult authorities and their lack of progress in investigating the disappearances. The authorities aren’t coming up with any definitive answers. So the teens decide to start their own investigation. Why not? This being the case, the investigating teens had to have names, personalities and depth. This brought us to our question: Can our book have more than one main character? We decided yes.

As the story progresses, certain players grow and come to the forefront. They take lead roles in their amateur sleuthing. They team with other players, they argue, they fight – anything to find out what happened to their family and friends. Specific players become leaders, and thus, main characters. It’s a nice bonus to the reader that as the story progresses, the teens’ investigation crosses over into the lives of the main character, and vice versa.

So yes, your book can have more than one main character. Changers does. And we’re good with that.

What’s in a name?

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what's in a name

Hmm…we decided some of our names aren’t all that cool. Or they have been overused somewhere else, or they’re too old-school-sounding, or they were popular someplace else that we didn’t realize until now. Or something.

We also wanted to be sure we’re using names you can relate to, and pronounce. Regular names are good, because the Changers series is about regular people in supernatural situations. One of the pet peeves in a book is when you come across a name that you’re not sure how to pronounce. Like Aoulange, or Saint Maureiliape. In The Hunger Games, it’s pretty obvious how to pronounce Katnis. But not so with a name like Hialgney. You get the point.

Names that are out:

  • Hickey – what the heck were we thinking?
  • Maggie – old, overused.
  • Martha – old lady.
  • Georgia – old school.
  • Heliotrope – we hadn’t used this, but just sayin’.
  • Dewey – Someone reminded us that David Arquette’s name in the Scream movies is Dewey.

 

Stacks of Notes

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notes to posts

“Write that down.”
“It sucks.”
“Write it down anyway. We might use it.”
“I had this really bizarre dream last night.”
“Did you write it down?”
“Of course. I didn’t want to suffer the wrath.”
“What, like I’m a slave driver?”
“Did you write down that dream you told us about last month?”
“I pieced it together.”
“They say you should write down your dreams as soon as you wake from them. Even if it’s the middle of the night.”
“Why? I remembered it.”
“Because it’s fresher in your mind. You’d be more likely to get all the details.”
“Well, I filled in with some stuff I made up. It was still good.”
“I was thinking about the book today. I was thinking instead of having that scene at the school, maybe we should make it at a player’s house.”
“Or with the punks.”
“Punks with a capital ‘P’.”
“Of course, that’s what I meant.”
“I’m thinking the school thing should be out anyway.”
“Maybe, but the players, at least most of them, are school age.”
“It could be summer vacation. It doesn’t have to be during school.”
“Sure. That would free them up to do more stuff. We wouldn’t have to keep saying, ‘…after school the next day…’ or wait till the weekend for something to happen, or for someone to do something.”
“Write that down.”
“I’m way ahead of you.”

Who said what? It doesn’t matter.

We had a stack of notes. The notes were an archive of blood, sweat and cheers. We wrote so much down on paper – sticky note paper, spiral-bound notebooks, printer paper, colored construction paper. We never used napkins, they rip too easily. We tapped so many notes into our phones, our tablets, our laptops. We installed and uninstalled so many different note-taking apps, we lost count.

There were no tears shed over this book. We laughed, talked, argued and got pissed at each other. In the end, we have been our own best cheerleaders.

Now, the notes become posts. An archive of the badass adventure we took together – writing a story. An awesome story. Writing a book. It’s an adventure we’re still on. We choose to remain adventurers. If this book never goes anywhere, never gets published, we will always say it was fun. It IS fun. We’re still on the train, and there’s no reason to jump off now.