Five Films I Wish Were Based On Novels

Many of the best films are based on novels, in my opinion. As an aspiring novelist, I have firsthand experience with the struggles of character development. Since I’ve been writing my first novel, character development (or lack thereof) is one of the things I take note of in any film I see. Of course, there are likely many factors why character development takes the backseat to other things in a film—special effects being the most common.

While technology greatly increases the production quality of films, it also tends to leave more important aspects of the storytelling weaker.

That said, there are some films, that, in my opinion, successfully tell a good story, and have well-developed (and believable) characters—but not based on novels. Here are a few which I wish were.

Almost Famous (2000) written by Cameron Crowe
Perhaps the main reason this movie is successful in terms of character development is that it is semi-autobiographical. There are so many things that, while successfully addressed in the movie, would make great back story in a novel: William Miller’s early childhood with his overprotective mother. The conflict between his mother and sister. Perhaps the story behind his absent father. William’s developing love for rock music, and later on, the full story of Penny Lane. There is so much great stuff to get more insight into. And of course, more depth and description into the world of touring with an up-and-coming rock band.

Almost Famous, had it been a novel, would likely have been a quintessential rock novel, joining the likes of Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity.

The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) written by Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson
After I first saw this movie, I wanted to read the novel. Of course, there isn’t one. Despite the fact the movie is introduced as a reading of a novel, and several scenes are enhanced by an off-screen narrator supposedly reading from the novel the movie is based on. No such luck.

Juno (2007) written by Diablo Cody
There’s a lot of great dialogue in this movie, but one of the things I thought was lacking was insight into the relationship between the title character and Bleeker, the father of the child that drives the entire story. The relationship between Juno and her father and step-mother is also something that would be fantastic to get more insight to.

Swingers (1996) written by Jon Favreau
A high quality lad-lit novel is hard to find. Outside of Nick Hornby and Jonathan Tropper, I haven’t found any established authors of the genre that I love enough to have read their entire bibliography. I have discovered some highly enjoyable lad-lit aside from them—don’t get me wrong—but I haven’t found many that really speak to me. I think Swingers, as a novel, would. The movie is great, and there’s a lot of different relationships that have so much more to be revealed: Mike’s relationship with his ex-girlfriend Michelle, and the events surrounding their break-up, or Mike’s relationship with Trent and the other guys, which has its good moment and rocky moments would make for great reading. There’s a lot of insight to be revealed, especially if written in the first person from Mike’s perspective.

Good Will Hunting (1997) written by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck
Let’s face it, when you have a conflicted character like Will Hunting, you can’t help being curious to know just a genius like him ends up in and out of jail throughout his life, and taking jobs well beneath his mental abilities. Obviously, to those who have seen the movie, they know Will Hunting was an abused child and was extremely devoted to his friends, and while that is well portrayed in the movie, wouldn’t you love to know more?

Agree, or disagree with my choices? Have any of your own? Leave a comment and let me know!

I Really Like This Book Cover Design

As I work towards finishing my own novel, I have to say I can’t help thinking about details I shouldn’t be concerned with, particularly the book cover.

Anticipating that I will likely self-publish my novel, all creative designs will be in my court. So, I guess thinking about such things is okay, if it doesn’t distract me from writing. Still, I like to keep note of covers that I like, and this is one of them:


I won’t give serious thought into my own novel’s until I’m done—or near done—but I think keeping in mind how to portray your own novel in a single image is a legitimate part of the creative writing process.

Novel Update #1

The thing is, while this may be the first update on the progress of my novel, I should say it has been a work in progress for nearly two years now. Several things have kept me from finishing it, but perhaps the most significant reason is that I don’t write full time. I have a full time job in a completely unrelated field, so time to work on the novel is limited to nights and weekends, which are often meant for family time. That said, in two years I have roughly 95,000 words, which is great, but there are a lot of gaps I need to fill in. Also, stuff I wrote a year or two years ago is constantly being rewritten or scrapped. Most of the rewrites aren’t major, but sometimes you just realize that over the course of the writing that you’ve learned more about the characters and their lives and must reassess portions of their story.

My current goal is to finish the novel by the end of 2013. From there we’ll see what the next step is. Despite lack of resources to promote the novel on my own, I am leaning towards self-publishing rather than make an attempt through traditional publishing options. There have been enough self-publishing success stories to make me think I can get a respectable number of readers if I put in the effort to do so. But, it’s too early to be thinking about that. I want to finish the book before deciding what to do.

What is the novel about? I’d like to share that, but I’ve been advised that discussing your novel before completing a first draft is not a good thing to do, but there are some things I can tell you to give you an idea as to whether or or not you think it might be something you’d consider reading. I am a fan of Nick Hornby and Jonathan Tropper novels, and I’d say I’d consider my novel as being in the same genre.

Currently, I have not settled on a title for the novel yet. It has a working title of Not Famous, but I am no means married to that title. Unfortunately it’s an element that often distracts me from actual writing. I can spend chunks of time considering the book in its current state and wondering if there’s a more appropriate title. I need to convince myself it’s not worth worrying about at this point.

So, that’s where it is at.

Five Reasons I am Looking Forward to the Carrie Remake

When it comes to remaking classic movies, I am definitely in the camp that believes it’s best not to try to fix something that isn’t broken. All too often, remakes/reboots leave us pining for the quality and purity of the original source material. And this isn’t just a reference to Tim Burton, who can’t seem to touch a remake without destroying it (see Alice in Wonderland, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Planet of the Apes). In fact, the Coen Brothers’ True Grit and Christopher Nolan’s reboot of Batman are undeniable exceptions to the rule, thus proving that sometimes we are ready for a new version of something old – as long as they are done right.

When I first learned that there would be a remake of Carrie, I was admittedly skeptical, but I believe that despite the original’s status a classic of the horror genre, that we are ready for this remake.

5. The Trailer Is Very Promising

It’s not always a good thing to judge a movie based on a trailer. Trailers are, by design, meant to get you interested in a film by highlighting the best aspects of the film. That said, the trailer for the new Carrie movie proves to me that the remake is well done, and the performances of the actors spot on. Chloë Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore fit their roles perfectly. Unlike trailers of other recent remakes/reboots, this one makes me want to see the movie even more.

4. The Story Needs Redemption

The legacy of the original Carrie was sullied by its “sequel” The Rage: Carrie 2. A horrible movie given legitimacy by Amy Irving’s reprising her role as Sue Snell, the lone survivor of the Carrie’s wrath at the prom. The sequel lacked the depth and quality of the original, with a lame build up to a virtually identical climax that wasn’t nearly as successful as the De Palma film’s.

3. Better Special Effects

Carrie’s telekinetic powers, and the extent of them, just don’t get enough airtime in the original until the movie’s climax… and they’re not great. Up until that point, there is no indication that Carrie has even mastered her ability to that extent. The current state of special effects give the remake an opportunity to examine her growing understanding of her abilities and her control of them… all while looking believable by today’s standards.

2. It’s Still Not a Special Effects Movie

Despite the fact that the special effects will be better, the story shouldn’t require them to be overused just because technologically provides the opportunity. Most of the story is a psychological thriller, building up tension to a breaking point. Aside from the more convincing displays of Carrie’s telekinetic powers, there’s really no need for CGI special effects, that are often overused to compensate for a lacking story. The story of Carrie is by no means lacking in depth and emotional conflict.

1. It’s Relevant

Carrie is an outsider. A bullied girl who wants acceptance, but is subject to bullying and ridicule by her peers. Bullying has become a fairly big issue in recent years, so the story actually has a unique relevance to the present. You will notice in the locker room scene (which you can see a clip of in the movie trailer) that Carrie’s fellow students use cell phones to capture her bloody moment of panic—a modern/current twist on the bullying.