Great Books that Made Great Movies

Great Books that Make Great Movies

There are so many wonderful movies that have been spawned as books, and one of my favorite pleasures is reading a movie and then reading the book that inspired it, or vice versa.

Cinema and literature are very different media, yet they both allow us to tell stories in memorable ways. They both use memorable settings, compelling characters, and gripping plot twists to explore all the compelling themes in our psyche.

Whether we are talking about Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird or Harry Potter from J.K. Rowland, or any of the many fabulous book and movie pairs, reading a book and then finding the cinema counterpart can be a most satisfying way to spend your entertainment time.

Start by Writing a Great Novel

The desire to Write the Great American Novel is Personal for Me

My BIG dream is to write a novel – and not just any novel but the Great American Novel – and then have it transformed into an academy winning film.

The quest to create the novel that defines Americans has been around since America existed and novels have been changed into movies since movies existed.

These days there are lots of books that can help you with your writing – as well as collections of the Great American Novel candidates themselves.

The Great American Novel MEGAPACK®The Great American Novel MEGAPACK®How to Write a Damn Good Novel: A Step-by-Step No Nonsense Guide to Dramatic StorytellingHow to Write a Damn Good Novel: A Step-by-Step No Nonsense Guide to Dramatic StorytellingHow to Write Great Characters: The Key to Your Hero's Growth and TransformationHow to Write Great Characters: The Key to Your Hero’s Growth and TransformationHOW TO DEVELOP STORY TENSION: 13 Techniques plus the Five Minute Magic Trick Guaranteed to Keep Your Readers Turning Pages (Great Ways to Write Your Novel)HOW TO DEVELOP STORY TENSION: 13 Techniques plus the Five Minute Magic Trick Guaranteed to Keep Your Readers Turning Pages (Great Ways to Write Your Novel)

Harry Potter Was Once a series of Books – Remember?

Harry Potter was a wonderful series of movies of course – but the books got kids reading again. Here is the series that captured the world’s heart and attention – the little boy Wizard who with his amazing friends, grew up to fight the forces of evil. Here is the collection of the books, the movies and a story of how the page became the screen.

The reviewer is a cute little lady too.

Harry Potter Paperback Box Set (Books 1-7)Harry Potter Paperback Box Set (Books 1-7)Harry Potter: The Complete 8-Film CollectionHarry Potter: The Complete 8-Film CollectionHarry Potter Page to Screen: The Complete Filmmaking JourneyHarry Potter Page to Screen: The Complete Filmmaking Journey

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird is the classic example of a great book that was translated into a great movie. Until recently, Harper Lee was famous for writing just one novel, and what a novel it was.

This book was the quintessential initiation – or coming of age novel: as we watch young Scout grow up. It also addresses important social issues: primarily can a a black man get justice in the South?

Everyone should watch To Kill a Mockingbird , Gregory Peck’s masterpiece based on Southern bigotry, growing up and accepting unusual people for themselves.

To Kill a MockingbirdTo Kill a MockingbirdTo Kill a Mockingbird 50th Anniversary EditionTo Kill a Mockingbird 50th Anniversary Edition

A Personal Dream of Writing

The Dream Continues: My Dream was First Desired by Another

My first boyfriend was a very creative, special person. He also was prone to depression, and I learned that he had committed suicide several years ago. During our senior year in high school he presented us with his big dream: – To Write the Great American Novel and Have it Adapted to an Academy Award Winning Movie – he presented for us in a when we were talking about hopes and aspirations. Since he did not have a chance to fulfill this dream – I will.
Or maybe YOU will?

NaNoWriMo – the Insanity of Writing a Novel in One Month

Will you take the challenge of National Novel Writing Month?

Writing Can be Hard

Thank Goodness for NaNoWritMo!

Writing a novel is known to be difficult – the joke is that everyone is PLANNING to write a novel and few people do.

Typically, writing a novel is a lonely affair like when Victor Hugo wrote

The Hunchback of Notre Dame. But is kind of miserable, and Americans definitely want a jazzier way of dealing with the novel writing.

Enter NaNOWritMo – the National Write a Novel in a Month contest. Held every November, this contest has the purpose of encouraging budding novelists to write rather than planning to write. If you take the National Novel Writing Month Challenge, you will vow to put 50,000 words down on paper that month, in what loosely resembles a novel. In other words – you aren’t going to get it perfect you vow to get it WRITTEN!

Can short novels be valuable? Well how about Of Mice And Men by John Steinbeck? And that novel translated into a terrific movie with actors John Malkovich and Gary Sinise.

Of Mice And MenOf Mice And MenOf Mice and MenOf Mice and Men

How Are Novels Different Than Life?

Novels Have a Plot Defined by a Structure

Although most of us have lives with much action and interesting characters, it is usually hard to find a definite plot in that it is not obvious – what is going to happen.

Most novels however follow the five part narrative structure as laid out by the late 1800’s novelist and playwright Gustav Freytag. The novel begins with the “exposition” where all the characters are introduced, progresses with rising action that will start with a conflict by the characters, often a death of one of the characters; culminating into the climax of a the novel where the protagonist is pitted against the antagonist in a final fight, progressing through the falling action phase, where it actually often seems that the villain will win – and finally resolving into the resolution – where either the antagonist or the protagonist wins decisively.

Most of our lives do not happen in an orderly fashion like that, so novels are by necessity manipulations. Another tool that novelists get to use are symbols, and allusions to other literature.

Carson McCullers Created a Haunting Picture of the American South in the 1930’s

Carson McCullers is one of my favorite authors, and her work is not as well known as I would like. I chose to feature her work as the first example of a wonderful novel made into a movie. The Ballad of a Sad Cafe is typically Carson McCullers – sad, strange and wonderful. Extensive, huge collection of all of Carson McCuller’s books – including The Ballad of the Sad Cafe. One reviewer said “this would be definitely be on my desert island collection.” Although the novel by the same name was published in 1951, we had to wait forty years until the movie was released in 1991. A typical dark, Southern hopeless triangle is portrayed here: Marvin Macy a usually anti-social cruel man who falls in love with Miss Amelia, a wealthy, Amazonian built odd woman with character changing results upon Macy. Unfortunately Miss Amelia does not love Macy, although she engages in a bizarre and unexplained ten day marriage with him, maybe just because he asked. Her rejection is very frustrating to him, so he leaves town. Miss Amelia is a hard woman herself, but she begins to soften when Cousin Lymon moves to town. Cousin Lymon is a dwarfed, hunchback but for some reason Miss Amelia finds herself falling for him. Any happiness they might have had however is ruined when Marvin Macy returns to town – and Cousin Lymon falls in admiration and adoration for him, willing to pit Miss Amelia against Macy if need be.

Using the triangle is a common plot device to bring on tension.

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter is full of the kind of odd and interesting, and poignant if not tragic characters that McCullers was famous for. The primary character is John Singer and Spiros Antonapoulous, two deaf mutes who have formed their own world, until Antonapoulous is committed to an insane asylum for odd behavior. John Singer is forced into the society of his 1930’s Georgia town and he Mick Kelly, a tomboyish girl who loves music and dreams of buying a piano; Jake Blount, an alcoholic labor agitator; Biff Brannon, the observant owner of a diner; and Dr. Benedict Mady Copeland, an idealistic black physician.

Anything written by Carson McCullers – or the movies made from her work will be haunting and memorable.

Collected Stories of Carson McCullers, including The Member of the Wedding and The Ballad of the Sad CafeCollected Stories of Carson McCullers, including The Member of the Wedding and The Ballad of the Sad CafeThe Ballad of the Sad Cafe - The Merchant Ivory CollectionThe Ballad of the Sad Cafe – The Merchant Ivory CollectionThe Heart Is a Lonely HunterThe Heart Is a Lonely HunterThe Heart is a Lonely HunterThe Heart is a Lonely Hunter

What will Make Your Novel a Reality?

What Will Make my Novel A Reality?

When I was 20 years old, I was inspired to write – but I realized that I had little I had actually experienced. Now I have experience A LOT – the question is – how to make it into a coherent plot, with memorable characters and dialogue, a story that makes an impression upon us?

How Do You Convert a Book to a Movie?

How to Write a Movie in 21 Days: The Inner Movie MethodHow to Write a Movie in 21 Days: The Inner Movie Method

So HOW do you going to convert a novel to a book?

This is the big question. Cinema is different than the written word, a world into itself.

Is your Story really a movie? How do you move it from your mind to the page? This book provides you with a step by step guide to doing just that, and finally writing that movie.


Books are the Creative Spark for TV as well

The Southern Vampire Sookie Stackhouse Novels and the True Blood TV

Many TV series have started off as books, and I will leave it to you to decide which is better.

One of my favorites was the Sookie Stackhouse novels that were later made into the series True Blood. I much preferred the novels. Charlaine Harris is a master with language, and her novels are often very funny – which I think was somewhat lost in the series. Still I think I watched the whole series – so what does that tell you?

Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse / True Blood (Complete Series: Books 1-13)Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse / True Blood (Complete Series: Books 1-13)True Blood - Season 1-7 [Blu-ray] [Region Free] or DVDTrue Blood – Season 1-7 [Blu-ray] [Region Free] or DVD


Sometimes Great Books DON’T Translate into Great Movies

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain is definitely among the top five contenders for Great American Novel. This fascinating initiation tale of a boy growing up in the South was wonderfully written, full of amazing characters and plot twists – and full of commentary on American racism. It was that sharp criticism that was shielded in the movie, rendering it just a children’s movie which it was not.

This movie rendition of Huck Finn came out in 1955. A cool Chrysler ad, but otherwise don’t except a whole lot.

But EVERYONE should read the book.

That is just one example of how Hollywood can mess up an amazing story. Great authors show courage, creativity and wonder – and sometimes Hollywood loses that in the search for the bottom line.

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: Unabridged edition (Immortal Classics)Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: Unabridged edition (Immortal Classics)Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1955)Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1955)

You can Do it!

Which Are Better?

Books or Movies?

That is really an impossible question to answer.
Books of course, allow for your own imagination.
Movies limit your imaginative options, but they put you right where the action is.
Some books do not translate well into movies, and vice versa.
Occasionally you get a gem that is great in both!

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Leave a Comment


  1. Wow! Writing a novel is a huge goal! I always wanted to write a self-help book – wrote and self-published one years ago. Maybe it’s time to try again.

  2. Outstanding work here. You have listed several of my favorite novels and I enjoyed the movie version as well. I am so sorry about the death of your boyfriend. I hope it gives you fodder for your own writing and you grow and gain a new insight from experiencing such a tragedy.

  3. MareeT

    I like reading books and then watch the movie. Good choices you have here!

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Meet The Author


Gypzeerose - aka Rose Jones - is a Mom, nerdy, fun loving traveller through life, currently living in the East Bay in the San Francisco Area.

She loves to write and blog, and has aspirations towards fiction.

She can be found ferociously packing boxes and packages as an eBay seller at

In her spare time she is a nurse. :)

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