Novelizing the Screenplay of a Novel
If you are wondering whether or not you should kick-start your fiction career (or end it gracefully) by writing tie-in novels for movies or TV shows, I guess you'd better read this essay for the "Los Angeles Times" about a guy who writes books based on some television show called "Burn Notice."

This is a great essay, if you imagine that it is being written at gunpoint.

You have to imagine that the writer is crying into his keyboard while a thug wearing snakeskin boots chews on a toothpick, holds a revolver on him, and talks at great length about how she is trying to break into acting, but right now she works for the studios in a more "confrontational" capacity.

The author does manage to sneak in this subversive reflection about the novelization of the movie "The Road to Perdition." Evidently, the movie studios got the author of the graphic novel on which the movie was based (Max Allan Collins) to write the book, which sounds like the kind of thing that Caligula would do to prove that the universe wishes maximum evil on the human spirit.

"The 'Road to Perdition' novelization was a nightmare, frankly," Collins says. "I went after it for obvious reasons -- I didn't want a 'Perdition' novel written by someone else out there. I proceeded to write the best novelization of my career, staying faithful to David Self's script -- which was already fairly faithful to my graphic novel -- but fleshed out the script with characterization, expanded dialogue scenes and just generally turning it into a quality novel of around 100,000 words. After I submitted it and had the New York editor say it was the best tie-in novel he'd ever read, the licensing person at DreamWorks required me to cut everything in the novel that wasn't in the script. That I was the creator of the property held no sway. I was made to butcher the book down to 40,000 words."

Consider the legal ramifications. Let's say they make a movie out of the book "Lonesome Dove" that wildly differs from the plot of the original in order to make it palatable to Hollywood. At the end of the movie, Call and Zombie Gus fight to the death on top of a water tower filled with oil that Zombie Gus has been secretly drilling for ten-year-old Hitler.

That means they can make a book, call it "Lonesome Dove," require that it stick to the script ("HA HA HA, MEIN FREUND. NOW YOUR PRECIOUS AUGUSTUS MCRAE WORKS FOR ME: CHILD-HITLER"), sell it, and give Larry McMurtry fuck-all.

This kind of thing affects me in the same way that murders and genocide affect other people (maybe because I suspect that one leads to the other). I guess Max Allan Collins does a lot of drugs in order not to kill himself.

Isn't it funny that the work in question is called "The Road to Perdition?"

I bet Collins thinks about that late at night, while his hands twist under his cool, white sheets, wishing they mattered.


Posted by miracle on Fri, 29 Aug 2008 20:00:17 -0400 -- permanent link

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