Repeat, Read, Repeat

It’s Free Week and I want to revisit something that although I have addressed in the past, it has come up a few times quite recently here on 4F,1H:

You can’t judge books by their TV shows or movies, (and sometimes, vice versa.)

The writers and authors have no say over changes.

Changes are made for change sake.

Once a writer’s work has been ‘optioned’, (they have been given a sum of money up front so the company has the ‘option’ of using it), that work is out of the writer’s hands.

(Sometimes a writer’s work is optioned by a production company to keep it from being produced by another company. It happens. It happened to someone I know. The writer can no longer offer it to anyone else to get it produced unless, or until, the option runs out, if  the option runs out. The contract may have a time limit, but if the contract does not stipulate a time and in the contract the production company has the right to renew, the work is in limbo.)

Very few writers have the clout to have any real input;

even J. K. Rowling [Harry Potter],and Pamela Lyndon Travers, [Mary Poppins], who held out for the most control, were not happy with changes that were made when their stories were converted to movies.

No one else can hope for anywhere near their clout, and even theirs wasn’t enough to keep changes from being made which made them unhappy.

I will once again tell anyone here who writes, and especially those who dream of ever seeing their stories put to the screen, to read “Writing Movies for Fun and Profit” by Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon.

If, by chance, you ever dreamed of writing for the screen you really need to read this book.

If you are just love movies, or TV, or are just curious as to how they work, you should read this book. It is filled with the hows and whys of works translated to screen, and why they are always changed.


Writers working on conversions to screen change things just to change them, PERIOD.


In fact, in the book the authors instruct writers who get a gig translating a work to screen to change every possible thing that they can: hair color, eye color, add a relationship, add a landlord, make it a landlady instead, add a pet, take one away, change a cat to a dog, and almost always change the pet’s name, etc., etc.

Patty-the-Monday-Fox brought up the Agatha Raisin mystery series this week. I reviewed them in general some months ago. I have not seen any of the TV series made with the premise of these books, but I saw one still photo.

I will never look at one of the shows based on the changes I saw in that one shot.

[Note: There are BBC radio plays based on Agatha Raisin books. They are well-acted and true to the originals, if extremely edited.]

When I told my sister that I was listening to audiobooks about a policeman in Scotland named Hamish Macbeth, she said that she had watched a series about him. She added that Robert Carlyle played him. I nearly dropped the phone. I like Robert Carlyle, but Hamish Macbeth is six-feet, five inches tall, and  Carlyle is five-feet-eight. Hamish is extremely handsome; Mr. Carlyle, for all his talent, (and possible charm), is not a striking figure. My sister talked about his fluffy little terrier dog, (in the books it is a big mongrel), and what a fun slob he is. Oh, no, no, no. I turned it on once, saw a few moments, and left.

In the series, Hamish was slovenly dressed with a cigarette constantly hanging out of his mouth. I fast-forwarded and saw that the pub was full of rowdy folk. Hamish was still slovenly and another cigarette was dangling from his lips. I could not watch any more of it, not even by fast-forwarding.

In the books, Hamish is considered lazy by some, but he just loves his quiet life in the small town and surrounding countryside where he is the local constable. He likes caring for his people. He isn’t driven to raise in the ranks and be a big-city cop with the corruption, the dirt, big-city problems and just being one of the ranks. He doesn’t get much respect where he is, but he has friends, a small piece of land with chickens and a few sheep, and he is happy.

Hamish is known as a bit of a mooch, especially in the beginning. He always shows up where there is a free cup of coffee to be had, or a free meal, but that is because his salary is low and he sends most of it home to help his parents, who had a number of children after he was nearly grown.
Although it is nearly worn out, he wears his uniform most of the time, and he adamantly refuses to give into the temptation to pick up a cigarette no matter how tempting, since he made himself quite some years before.

The townspeople are mostly decent and straight-laced; in fact, the books are set in the 1990s and even then, things are decades behind the times there in many ways.

The changes that I have seen are enough to upset me to no end, (or couldn’t you tell?)

I really love Rosie Dunne by Cecelia Ahern. I found a movie version once, but stopped it after five minutes, if that long. Conversely to this, had I read the book Forrest Gump was based on, I never would have seen those charming stories-within-stories. In fact, I picked up the book after I had seen the movie, and only got part of the way through it. The same with another favorite, The Time Traveler’s Wife. The book is full of unlikeable people. But now I am truly repeating myself from former posts, including this one:

M.C. Beaton (Marion Chesney), was the author of the Hamish Macbeth and Agatha Raisin mysteries, also the “Poor Relations”, a 6-part series, which I reviewed as well.

I hope that I never hear of anyone ruining The Poor Relations, Beaton’s last series.

I will add these once more:

Written works are out of the original writers’ hands when being converted to screen and changes are made. CHANGES ARE ALWAYS MADE.

Please don’t assume the characters are the same in the books or series.

Give the print or movie versions a try. You can always stop, but you might find and enjoy a big difference.


About Tonette Joyce

Tonette was a once-fledgling lyricists-bookkeeper, turned cook/baker/restaurateur and is now exploring different writing venues,(with a stage play recently completed). She has had poetry and nonfiction articles published in the last few years. Tonette has been married to her only serious boyfriend for more than thirty years and she is, as one person described her, family-oriented almost to a fault. Never mind how others have described her, she is,(shall we say), a sometime traditionalist of eclectic tastes.She has another blog : "Tonette Joyce:Food,Friends,Family" here at WordPress.She and guests share tips and recipes for easy entertaining and helps people to be ready for almost anything.
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5 Responses to Repeat, Read, Repeat

  1. Jeff Salter says:

    Excellent points, all.
    What a shame that some of those screenwriters apparently deliberately shuffle things about, just “because they can.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think it is more ‘making it their own’ and putting their mark on the writings, Jeff. I often wondered because sometimes, like with pets or lines that one character said in a book that is then given to another in a movie, often made no sense. There is always a reason for everything; not necessarily a good reason, but a reason. No one does anything without a reason.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Patricia Kiyono says:

    I read most of Robyn Carr’s Virgin River series and Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove books, and then I watched the television versions of both. There were definite changes, but they really didn’t really bother me. Then again, I’ve been told it takes a lot to get me riled. I’ve read that Robyn Carr was actually pleased with a lot of the plot changes, and since I’ve met her, that doesn’t surprise me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • AS I mentioned above, sometimes the rewrites improve the original works. “Ship of Fools” was another movie that I liked and when I read the book, I was disgusted. It’s great when they ‘clean -up’ characters and make them at least sympathetic, if not likable or decent, but to purposely foul-up otherwise decent folk bothers the daylights out of me.


  3. Elaine Cantrell says:

    I’d rather see the movie first I think. In my opinion, the book is always better, and if they change too much for the movie I wouldn’t like it.


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