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Discussion: Adapting books

I just started watching the TV show True Blood (my dad will be happy–he’s been telling me to check it out for almost a year now ;) ), which of course I know is based on a series of books by Charlene Harris. I haven’t read any of the books, but it was interesting to find out, poking around online, that the creators made a few rather major changes when writing the show. Particularly with the character Tara.


Right now, Tara is probably my favorite character. (Though Lafayette and Sookie herself provide some pretty tough competition.) She is made of awesome. It’s hard for me to imagine the story presented in a way where she is so peripheral she doesn’t even turn up until the second book! But technically, I guess, that’s the more “authentic” version, since it’s the version that came first. Of course, TV show and movie creators are always taking liberties when they adapt books. Sometimes for good reason (not everything that works on the page also works on the screen; condensing is almost always necessary), sometimes for reasons it is hard to perceive (I’ve been hearing a lot of grumbling from Harry Potter fans about bits of the book left out while other, seemingly irrelevant bits, were added in).

As book fans, how do you feel about adaptations? Are you happy as long as it tells a good story, regardless of how true to the book(s) it stays? Are there certain sorts of changes that particularly bother you–or, on the other hand, that you particularly like to see? What do you look for when you see a book you enjoyed made into film or TV?

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Originally published at Megan Crewe - another world, not quite ours. You can comment here or there.

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( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
suelder
Aug. 12th, 2009 07:37 pm (UTC)

The best example of a screen adaptation that I can recall is The Princess Bride. The book had a lot more *stuff*, but the screenwriters had an excellent sense of what would work on the screen and what wouldn't.

Silence of the Lambs wasn't bad either ;-)
megancrewe
Aug. 13th, 2009 07:20 pm (UTC)
Yes, The Princess Bride was done really well! I think the captured the important parts perfectly. I'm also quite fond of the Watership Down movie (which similarly had to do some cutting and compressing but I think made it work really well).

Haven't read the book of Silence of the Lambs, so can't compare that one. :)
britlitfantwin
Aug. 12th, 2009 07:39 pm (UTC)
I think my biggest pet peeves are if the adaptation doesn't stick to the inherent natures of the characters and the rules of the world created by the author in the first place. I love the Harry Potter books, to an obsessive degree, but there are very few things that I've been unhappy about with the movies, mainly because I feel that they've never strayed from the essence of someone's character or the rules of J.K. Rowling's world.

It's the same things I think about when reading fanfiction, actually. If I read a HP fanfic where one or more of the characters is acting in a way that just doesn't ring true, I don't read anymore, because I don't feel it's worth the time.
megancrewe
Aug. 13th, 2009 07:24 pm (UTC)
That makes sense, and I think that's what bothers me the most, too--sticking to the essence of what the story and characters are about.
(Deleted comment)
megancrewe
Aug. 13th, 2009 07:26 pm (UTC)
I haven't seen a whole lot of Eric yet (only on ep 8 of the first season), but he's certainly intriguing. :)

And yeah, I find it's very rare that I like a movie as much as the book it was based on, even if it's well done. Because there are always things cut, and if it's a great book, then it's sad to see those things lost, even if the story technically works without them. Though I think sometimes a bad book can be made into a good movie!
larah33
Aug. 13th, 2009 01:37 am (UTC)
I truly felt that the creators of The Dresden Files took too many liberties with plot and characters, changing who some characters were at their core. With Blood Ties the changes were minor peripheral things, leaving the core of the characters alone. Sadly, the latter didn't last long enough.

I am more eagerly awaiting Flash Forward in the fall, as it's only based on one book and not a whole series. Hopefully, that will minimize changes to characters.
megancrewe
Aug. 13th, 2009 07:27 pm (UTC)
Haven't watched any of the Dresden TV show and now I'm thinking I probably won't bother checking it out. I'm always surprised when they take something that already has such a huge fan base and then mess with it... I mean, if it's working, leave it alone!
(Anonymous)
Aug. 13th, 2009 05:08 pm (UTC)
My reaction to adaptations is dependent on whether or not I am already a fan of the book, and if so, what I like about it. In general, I am fine if an adaptation does nothing more than take the premise of the original version and create a good story using those parameters.

However. If I really, really love some aspect of the original story, and that is changed beyond recognition or lost altogether, well, it can be hard to see past that. If an adaptation took a character I loved and turned him or her into a character I hated, that might end with me giving up on a show. But things like a minor characters or b plots being omitted or re-ordered events, etc.? I'm pretty tolerant of that.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

My Books


Earth & Sky
(Earth & Sky #1, science fiction YA)
Skyscape/Razorbill Canada, 2014


The Clouded Sky
(Earth & Sky #2, science fiction YA)
Skyscape/Razorbill Canada, 2015


A Sky Unbroken
(Earth & Sky #3, science fiction YA)
Skyscape/Razorbill Canada, 2015


The Way We Fall
(Fallen World #1, apocalyptic YA)
Disney-Hyperion, 2012


The Lives We Lost
(Fallen World #2, apocalyptic YA)
Disney-Hyperion, 2013


The Worlds We Make
(Fallen World #3, apocalyptic YA)
Disney-Hyperion, 2014


Those Who Lived: Fallen World Stories
(Fallen World #3.5, apocalyptic YA)
self pubbed, 2014


Give Up the Ghost
(paranormal YA)
Henry Holt, 2009

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