Only One for the Money

…Only One for the Show?

[How to Select only ONE of My Titles for the Screen]

By Jeff Salter


If one – and only one – of your stories would be adapted for the silver screen, which ONE would you select? Would you prefer to write the screenplay… or just watch from the sidelines while the studio uses whoever they use for such projects?

Even though this topic was my own suggestion, I’m gonna do what I often do — dance around the issue a bit. At present, I have 20 fiction titles out with three royalty publishers. As some of the Resident Foxes have stated so far this week, each of these stories is my “baby” and each is dear to my heart for different reasons.

Before I discuss those titles, however, let me get a few things out of the way:

* I know I could not write my own screenplay. First of all, they almost certainly would not allow a first timer to do so. Secondly, I doubt I could even write a screenplay, since it’s a completely different sort of “treatment” of a storyline.

* I know it would be painful to see any of my favorite scenes cut or my favorite supporting characters omitted — but I think I could accept that also. After all, I had to cut 55,000 words from one of my novels before I could even submit it. And another of my novels had over 20,000 words cut by the editor! I survived. [Both books are probably better for those deletions, even though that ‘surgery’ was distinctly painful to me at the time.]

* I know I would not have much (if any) creative control over the script, the casting, the direction, or which already-filmed components would later be left on the cutting room floor. It would be difficult to endure, but I could accept that — solely because I know it’s the premium “cost” of getting my story to the screen. And even a movie that’s only “average” in quality (of content and production) will still have a lot of viewers… and that exposure would bring a lot of new readers to my book.

* Even though it’s pleasantly diverting to imagine which actors might play the roles of particular characters of my creation… most of the actors I’m really familiar with are already dead (or at least long past their prime). I don’t see all that many “current” films, and (therefore) don’t know / recognize many of the current crop of Hollywood actors.

My Considerations

My first novel to be published was actually my seventh to complete. While I still love the story of Overnighter’s Secrets – and the real-life detective work which lead to my novel – I’m not sure my “first child” would make the best movie.

A fairly recent title – Random Sacks of Kindness – has a very important theme (assisting the homeless in ways that are actually EFFECTIVE)… but the overall subject matter is a bit depressing and might not make the best film.

Stuck on Cloud Eight would be wonderful to see on film, because the crew would have to build part or all of my specially designed treehouse. And I’d LOVE to see that brought to life. But I’m not certain my hero’s over-the-top “quest” (to win the favor of the heroine) would translate very well to the screen.

One of my forays into sci-fic is Size Matters — in which my heroine accidentally takes an experimental pill and shrinks to the size of her favorite 11-inch “Cyndi” fashion doll. It would be a hoot to see how the production crew handled having a live actor zooming about in a Cyndi car, exploring a Cyndi beach house, and trying on Cyndi-sized clothing. But it would certainly be costly to film.

Either of my two screwball comedies – in the series, Amanda Moore or Less – would be loads of fun to watch on film. Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold would tap in to the frustration many women feel as their significant male struggles to ‘survive’ his symptoms. Scratching the Seven-Month Itch has some scenes that still make me laugh when I re-read them.

My Action thriller, Double Down Trouble, would make a great movie — plenty of bad guys, plus my hero and heroine deciding to make a stand (to protect the elderly citizens caught in the middle). My other action thriller, One Simple Favor, is also fast-paced and adds some humorous elements that audiences should appreciate.

Either of my two cowboy time-travel titles would make good movies. The first, Cowboy Out of Time would likely be better (of the two), since it’s basically the origins of how Hunt Weston was zapped from 1885 and woke up in 1985. There’s plenty of humor, and a developing romance with Rose Roamer, along with some cool action. The sequel, however, would be quite expensive to produce, since it utilizes a lot of period vehicles and clothing and weaponry.

My second published novel – the sixth that I completed (Rescued By That New Guy in Town) – is funny and brisk, but it’s written in first person and everything is therefore seen through the eyes of the heroine. I’m not sure how that kind of story translates to the screen… but I’m guessing it would have to be totally overhauled.

The Finalists

There are a few titles I’ve not yet mentioned… and for no particular reason except that they wouldn’t necessarily be at the top of my list for screen treatment. But that brings me to the final two… you could call these the finalists.

The Ghostess and MISTER Muir is special to me for many reasons. Partly because I penned it so quickly, racing to be the first author to place a story in the newly-created (fictional) town of Magnolia, Alabama. And partly because it’s a loving homage to the wonderful 1947 film, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. With incredible effort, I re-purposed nearly every proper name – and many other images – from that movie. My intent was for other people who also loved that film to see those references and smile, thinking, “Oh, yeah… in the movie, Sproule was the publisher.”

Tied for the top spot – and (probably) edging it out for my selection for screen treatment – is my tribute to the greatest generation, Called To Arms Again. This novel is so special to me in so many ways that it’s nearly impossible to condense them into this limited space. Suffice it to say that my characters honor people like my parents, my uncles and aunts, my teachers at school and church, the leaders of my little town (growing up). And some of these many characters were directly inspired by specific individuals from that group. I think viewers would appreciate the humor, would cheer at the action, and would feel the warmth of the noble patriotism and self-reliance of those senior citizens who were called to arms again, six decades after WW2’s sacrifices.

So I guess that’s my selection: Called To Arms Again. See it soon at a theater near you!

[JLS # 547]


About Jeff Salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Fourteen completed novels and four completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Cowboy Out of Time" -- Apr. 2019 /// "Double Down Trouble" -- June 2018 /// "Not Easy Being Android" -- Feb. 2018 /// "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 /// "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 /// "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015 /// "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015 /// "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015 /// "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014 /// "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014 /// "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014 /// "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014 /// "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013 /// "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013 /// "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013 /// "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012 /// "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012 /// Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
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16 Responses to Only One for the Money

  1. phenomenal facts says:

    Amazing blog 😀😀


  2. jbrayweber says:

    I like the way you broke your selection down.

    For me, I would have to have at least some say in the final script. I know big-name authors sometimes do. Not being a big-name author, I guess my approval would be a pipe dream.
    Since my books are action-adventure romances, I think any one of them would be a good fit for the big screen. There are 2, however, that while they are stand-alone books would be better suited to be filmed back-to-back. In general, with the variety of scenery, the battles and sword-fighting, and multiple subplots, I can see the books easily adaptable for film. The pirate series could also be done AS a series. Something you’d see on Netflix. OMG….wouldn’t that be cool!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      I guess it depends on the production company — as to whether they’d allow much input. If it was a small “indie” outfit, maybe they would. You could always ask.
      I can’t recall how many of your stories I’ve read, but at least one of the pirate tales. While I was reading it, I could “picture” some of those scenes on the screen. Of course, I grew up loving pirate movies!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I hope that you drop in to read my post tomorrow,Jenn. I won’t ask that you stay to comment.
      The realities are that not even big-name authors get final approval of adaptations of their works; the top-tier MAY get some input at all. Most have none.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Patricia Kiyono says:

    Great choice! I might even be persuaded to watch.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. You know that I vote for “One Simple Favor”, because it is like a Katherine Hepburn-Cary Grant series of error movies from the 1930s:Feel good, laugh-out-loud comedy.I have not gotten to all of your other funny ones yet, (Man Cold is one). The others, although good stories, are heavier. The first two Cowboy (so far) would make a nice movie and sequel.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I vote for Stuck on Cloud Eight. LOL Followed by Double Down Trouble and then Rescued by the New Guy in Town. Those have plenty of potential for great movies that would hold the audience attention and give them a satisfying ending. Like I said before, we can dream. But one thing I would insist on in the contract is that any changes to my story would have to be approved by me. Who plays the parts, I’m not so worried about because we’d be dealing with professionals for the casting. Rarely, have I seen a part played by a totally wrong personality.

    As far as my books go, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this since the first question this week of which book I’d choose. The very first book I wrote would be my choice to be made into a movie, because I would want the others to follow. They were not written as a series, but do have encore appearances of characters, and their parts build on the new stories up until my 5th novel. The writing and plots, I believe, get better with each story, as I become better at creating them. The one I’m working on now, to be published this summer, being the best yet.

    Honestly, any unique story has the potential of becoming a movie. And from the books I’ve read, I think most of those stories would be better movies than what’s coming out right now. My opinion…don’t blame Jeff. LOL 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      Thanks for your three votes. I agree all three would / could make great films (if properly done).
      I also agree, generally, with your assessment of the typical Hollywood fare these days. Or.. . actually no longer exclusively Hollywood, since many films are now being made in Canada, in LA, in GA, and elsewhere. I don’t think it’s a lack of potential stories. To me, it seems more like they only want to make a film that’s almost a duplicate of one that’s already successful. So they clone a clone of a clone. In doing so, they bore many of us discriminating viewers… though it seems to satisfy the masses. Ha.
      As far as creative control, I recall interview snippets with Stephen King — who (already quite successful at the time these films were made) — who lamented that the movies were nothing like his actual books.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, I understand that not everything we put into our novels can be duplicated on the screen. But I’d still demand my approval, and a reason why, if something was to be changed. LOL I’m stubborn that way. It’s the Irish/Scandinavian mix. 🙂 Hence, probably none of my novels will be scene on the screen.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Elaine Cantrell says:

    That’s a nice choice. I hope we’ll be able to see that movie one day.


  7. Catxman says:

    Movies have degraded to the level of plain old eye candy recently, with no storylines worth mentioning, so I wish you luck in pursuing that avenue. If you have a tale with lots of potential visual effects for the screen, that would be your best luck in getting one made.

    — Catxman

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      yeah… lots of F/X and car crashes, but thin plots (often) and typically violence for the sake of violence.
      Thanks for visiting today.


  8. Pingback: The Book of My Heart | Four Foxes, One Hound

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