This morning I was left feeling a little annoyed, and a bit upset after watching a news item. Though, it does make me understand how underrated writers are in film and screen. Our ideas and hours of writing are stolen from us, when books become films and television series. Our written words remain lost between the covers as our books become popular films and TV series.
During an interview a BBC reporter asked a woman about the recent reunion of the film cast for the Harry Potter series, and why she had turned her home and life over to become a Harry Potter super fan. She chatted on about the things she had collected, made, and how it all started after she watched the films as a child. She said, she felt she had grown up with the cast of the films etc. I eagerly waited for her to say about how she had read the first book, and became hooked, and if she had queued for the next one in the series. What impact the books had made on her life, but no… I smiled at my husband, and said, ‘I bet she never read them’.

Then the truth came… With a half smile, she said ‘I’ve been a fan since I was a child, but I never read the books,’ She laughed, ‘Well, I did read them about four years ago. Well, as a child I couldn’t sit still long enough to read them… I did start reading them just recently, but I couldn’t sit still long enough to read them now.. but I love the films, that’s what got me started..’ 🤦‍♀️ So really she isn’t a super fan… just a fan of the films and merchandise 😢

All J K Rowling’s careful editing, plotting and hours of rewriting, thinking about the characters and imagination that went into creating the world of Harry Potter was for nothing while working on the books. It was all about the special effects on the wide screen that excited this woman into buying the merchandise. Yes, you can tell me that if the author hadn’t written the first book, and it hadn’t been successful, then the films wouldn’t have been made, and the merchandise created. I agree, but as a writer of books I value the richness of the written word to create the images in my mind.

I always like to read the books first, and then see how the films reflect the author’s vision. The books give you more details in the way of characters’ backgrounds so you can understand why they behave in a certain way. I remember reading ‘The Shipping News Annie E Proulx‘ and only saw the film after reading the book. As the film was on DVD it had the director’s cut too, which I found interesting as the director of the film explained that he had read the book, but parts of the book had to be cut to fit into the length of the film. “We can’t expect our audience to sit still for eight hours, not only that, but it allows readers to enjoy the full pleasure of the book. Films are only a taster.”

I must say that the film of The Shipping News stayed very close to what is in the book. Another book, I had to read before watching the BBC series was Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell The novel of the same name by Susanna Clarke was amazing and had me hooked from page one. I read many of the Stephen King’s novels before seeing the films, and I’m glad I did as the film were more about special effects rather than the moral of the story. In truth, I enjoy the written word more as it allows my own mind to create the pictures in my head. Sometimes I find that my image of the main character in the book doesn’t fit the lead character in the film.

I have learn just recently that some people can’t see the pictures in their mind created by words on a page. My husband is one, but I thought that was to do with his ability not to remember what he had read before putting the book down. Where I can read three books on the go, and remember where I got to in the books, he can’t.

Is this another problem that future generations will have? Have we lost the ability to see with the mind’s eye the picture words can create. A picture paints a thousand words.

As children we were given picture books to see and understand that the patterns of letters in words relate to things: Cat, cloud, love, tree etc. these are the building blocks to not only writing, but reading as we learn to see in our mind’s eyes what words mean. The internet is such a visual thing where reading books is about understanding the words in a sentence and having to create the image in your mind. This is where the quality of the writing comes into play. Some books I read leave me cold as I’m unable to picture the setting, characters, storyline etc. There’s not a hook. Scene setting is so important and it drags the reader into the book.

It’s sad that the BBC Harry Potter Super Fan has missed out on reading and fully understand the characters in the book. Maybe, someone will buy her an audio copy of the books so she wouldn’t have an excuse to why she hasn’t read them, or at least listened to them.

Maybe one day I’ll be lucky enough to have my books turned into audiobooks too, so people who enjoy having the written word read to them, as we all did as children, will be able to enjoy my books on the go, too.

Happy New Year to you all.

2 Comments

  1. I’ve read about people who can’t form the mind images related to the books they read. The human brain is a puzzle. I almost always like the book better. It’s got to be an explosion-filled or music-filled story for a a movie to top the book for me. Like Star Trek Movies or Amadeus.

    Like

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