Monday, February 10, 2020

Idris Elba is perfect for this!**

I'm digging in to my queries with renewed zest.

Sadly the number of things you do to shoot yourselves in the foot isn't shrinking.

The latest is casting the leads for the movie to be made from your book.
Now, in and of itself, this is a fun game.
I've played it myself.
The most fun is when you're playing with the folks who'd just optioned the book and will actually  DO the casting.

But it's not harmless fun when you do it in a query.

What this tells me is you have unrealistic expectations. I'll do just about anything to avoid dealing with that.

Publishing beats the crap out of writers left right and sideways. I am often the bearer of very hard news: the book didn't sell, the advance is crap, your editor left to pursue a career in the circus.

And even when the book does sell, the advance is amazing, and the editor just signed a lifetime contract, there are still things that will (not may, WILL) go wrong.

If you add to that explaining:

*why your book isn't being picked up for film (most books aren't),
*why you aren't being consulted on casting (cause you don't know anything about how that works) *and not only is Idris Elba not the lead, they've just signed Carrot Top

then you understand why I don't just overlook this rookie mistake.

So, don't make this rookie mistake.
Make other ones.

**Idris Elba is perfect for anything.


nightsmusic said...

I can't imagine anything I've written being made into a movie. Read, yes. Shot...well, not that kind of shot anyway. Maybe with a nerf...I'm guessing this is most often a very rookie mistake. I would hope people who have been in the query trenches for awhile have learned not to do this.


MA Hudson said...

Ah, this one made me smile. A nostalgic smile, like looking back on simpler days. In the throes of first book excitement, I had the all the casting completely sorted out. I even tossed around ideas with my casting director best friend and had mentally committed to giving her the job once the movie deal was signed. Haha. Those were the days.

I never put my awesome plans in a query though. I'll give myself a little pat on the back for that, at least.

Brenda said...

I always wondered where editors go to shed their skins.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

At this point, I will take an agent not running off screaming when they read the first pages of my book. Oh Hell, I will take them not running off screaming when reading the query. Baby steps.

I fear I will create a whole new blog post on stupid things of what not to do. My queries go out a week from today and I am reconsidering my entire life plan. So many pitfalls and land mines between me and my dream.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

In my mind while writing I sometimes imagine an actor as a character. It helps regarding description and backstory. But I NEVER would insert that writer's-insanity into a query.

ACFranklin said...

I once got told by a family friend that they wouldn't read my book, they'd just watch the movie when it came out.

That one stung.

It's odd to me that this person is working out the casting in the query. Might be a sign that they haven't read enough? I wind up pleasantly surprised if any of the majority of the books I've read have been adapted into movies.

NLiu said...

Imagining The Hunger Games with Idris "perfect for anything" Elba cast as Katniss now.
It could work?!

Sharyn Ekbergh said...

My mother asked me if the Polar Express movie was going to use my music. (I'd done a soundtrack for our local re-enactment.)
But that's my mom so it's ok.

JulieWeathers said...

I can't imagine anyone doing this and I have a very fertile imagination.

I also can't imagine wanting Hollywood to touch anything I've written. Well, maybe one thing I'm working on which lends itself well to the screen. Nope, not Rain Crow. I'm like Norman McLean in that respect.

Mister Furkles said...

I love the Lee Child Jack Reacher novels. But I couldn't go to the movie (One Shot) because Jack is 6 feet 5 and Tom Cruise is 5 feet 6. The casting director must have had dyslexia.

There are a plethora of better actors for that part.

Kregger said...

So asking for myself as the imagined protagonist to be cast in the lead is out of the question?

Boy, that sucks.

I played a tree in the local production of "The Wizard of OZ." I nailed the dog with an apple.

That should count for something.

french sojourn said...

I'll admit to the fact that while working on ms no. 2, I did on occasion imagine Melissa McBride as a stand in for the main character. It helped me with dialogue. It didn't help me with the fact that neighboring vignerons would see me pantomiming by myself deep in dialogue, amongst the vines.

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

Hmmm... My titles are all true stories about my work in animal welfare, and the horses and other critters who have made their way to our sanctuary. I've been told about a half dozen times that I look like Sally Field. Maybe she could play me. And I'll tell whoever buys the movie rights to the Proud Spirit stories: "You like my books. You really like my books."

Colin Smith said...

I don't think I ever think about movie adaptations of my work while I write. The only time I might picture a popular actor as one of my characters is if that actor speaks or acts like that character, so I'm with Hank (french sojourn) on that.

Speaking more generally, I don't object to movie adaptations as long as they are understood to be one person's (i.e., the director) idea of the story. Whenever we read, we all become the directors of our own adaptations, and no-one's is more authoritative than another's (except perhaps the author's). Movie directors are only able to impose their visions on the rest of us because they have money, studios, actors, marketing, etc. And they don't always get it right (IMO).

Mister Furkles: Lee Child has defended the casting of Tom Cruise by saying that, while Cruise is clearly not of the same physical stature, he does embody the character of Reacher. In other words, in every other way but size, Cruise is the perfect Reacher--at least Lee Child thought so. At least when he was being interviewed to promote the movie... ;)

Personally, I think Idris Elba could've done it...

Karen McCoy said...

Hard agree, Colin and Mister Furkles. I think Idris Elba would have made a far superior (and much less dyslexic) Reacher. Though now, thanks to NLiu I'm now picturing him in Katniss's "Catching Fire" gown in the Capitol, lol.

LynnRodz said...

I never had a certain actor in my mind for the lead roles while writing. That said, I did imagine camera angles that showed different parts of Paris because the city itself became a character in my novel.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

Idris Elba, physically and via demeanor, could make an excellent Reacher (She said, based on the single Reacher book she has read [Killing Floor]. The next one I eagerly picked up was in third person instead of first and for some reason that switch was just not for me.)

I guess saying that that poor querier doesn't know how to query is an understatement, but I'm also wildly curious as to where in the query they put that. After the character's name, parenthetically? In a separate casting/housekeeping session (these are rhetorical questions, obviously)? like "Dear Janet, stop everything and call Hollywood! My book is about Steve (played by Idris Elba) who's trying to figure out what's going on at his small Midwestern Bespoke VCR company when his boss (Lucy Liu) starts taking a whole lot of shady meetings with who he's told are outside investors (Idris Elba, Kelly Marie Tran, Lizzo). Tensions heat up faster than a hacked Tesla when..."

Steve Forti said...

While it still saddens me that Jennifer Connelly will never play the character I modeled after her some 15+ years ago, I would never say that in a query. That said, it's Gilbert Gottfried or nothing when it comes to narrating my audiobook.

AJ Blythe said...

If "choose your own actor" is appearing a lot in query letters, I wonder where the idea has sprung from? I get that the odd newbie might think it's a great idea, but if our Queen is seeing more of it there has to be a source.

Craig F said...

I visualize all my characters. It makes it easier to figure how they wear the quirks and foibles that are their personalities.

Those approximately 250 words of the query are barely enough to get a story arc into. I don't see how people find room for the things that should stay internalized. Of course we have dreams of such things, but they are individual dreams.

Besides, do you know how many books have been optioned and then left to rot in a shallow grave?

Miles O'Neal said...

Even if you haven't found Janet's blog (I didn't when I first researched querying, and I have no idea why), if you do even a modicum of research you should know better than to do things like Queryer did.

That said, Idris Elba would be perfect as a voice for one of my dragons. Do the whole CGI thing around his facial expressions, too. Does he wanna be a good dragon, a bad dragon, or the one we aren't sure of? Have his agent call my... hold on, gotta get an agent.

KDJames said...

I've heard SO MANY people say, "It's every writer's dream to have their book made into a movie." And I guess there's something wrong with me (other than the obvious: writer), because that's never been a dream of mine. I mean, I wouldn't turn down option money, but I wouldn't be particularly sad when it doesn't get made. When, not if.

I've tried to use "famous" people, even unknown people, as placeholders when I'm writing and it just throws me off. My characters are mine and I know what they look like even if I don't describe them. There are no exact matches outside my brain. This is true when reading too. Detailed descriptions irritate me because it's usually not how I've pictured the character. But a lot of writers have Pinterest pages full of pics of stand-ins for their characters and readers seem to love it. So I guess I can (sort of?) understand someone adding this to a query, since so many published writers provide this visualization for their readers. Except, really and truly, it's all about the writing.

AJ Blythe said...

KD, that's me as well. I do have the odd pic for my characters, but that's more to capture a feeling, rather than the look itself. I hate it when characters are over-described. I picture them without any description, just from their actions.

Funnily enough, this is one thing that my CPs and I often disagree on, because they always want me to describe my characters.

Alyssa R said...

Lol, here I am watching my scenes like they are actually a movie/tv show and knowing there is a 0.0000...some itty-bitty percent chance of that. I mean, I'll use actors' voices from movies/shows/audiobooks to help me imagine my characters better ( Phantom-esque character may or may not sound a lot like JOJ...), but put that in a QUERY LETTER???? No thank you, that stays between me, myself, and I unless I get asked that specific question: "what do you imagine Character X sounds like?"
Also, imagine my characters as actors? (That may be the wrong way around.) No thanks. *If* my book gets optioned for film, the film people can use my thousands of drawings of my characters to find the right actors.

french sojourn said...

Colin, agreed. While Tom Cruise was a stretch for me, it's not the size of a dog in a fight, it's the size of the fight in a dog. Good point.