The Biggest Misconceptions About How Movie Novelizations Are Written

Illustration for article titled The Biggest Misconceptions About How Movie Novelizations Are Written

The novelizations that accompany popular movies and TV shows may not be written quite the way you think they are.


In response to our call to correct the errors that people have about your profession, writer Greg Cox told us about the three biggest misconceptions people have about how he writes novelizations, which have included the tie-in novel for the new Godzilla and several Star Trek novels:

I used to tell people that I wrote media tie-in novels, until my girlfriend explained to me that most people don't know what a"media tie-in" is. Now I explain that I write books and short stories based on popular movies, TV shows, and comic books. Even still, there are misconceptions.

1) The big one: The projects are not initiated by me. I don't wake up one morning and decide, "Hey, I feel like doing a WAREHOUSE 13 novel," write the entire book, and then somehow arrange to get permission from the TV studio to publish it. Nor do I personally pay the studio for their permission.

What really happens is that the publisher buys the rights from the studio and then hires me (or somebody like me) to write the book, subject to the Licensor's approval. "Hey, Greg, can you get me a proposal for a WH13 book by next week?"

2) Movie novelizations. Believe it or not, there are still a surprising number of people who have trouble wrapping their heads around the very concept. "The movie is based on your book?"

"No, my book is based on the movie."


3) Wishful thinking. No, there is virtually no chance that my STAR TREK or CSI novel will end being filmed as an episode or movie. That would be very cool, but it NEVER happens. That's not the point.

I get this from well-meaning friends and neighbors all the time:

"My new CSI book just came out."

"How exciting! When is it going to be on TV?"

"Um, never. It's a book, not an episode."

"But they COULD make it into an episode, right?"


You can read more about the misconceptions people have about various jobs — including dispatches from a professional acrobat, a cocoa processor, farmers, a pastor, pilots, a diplomat, librarians, teachers, and a LEGO set designer — right here.



I've always wondered what the process for writing a novelization is. First off, what's the main reason, especially if it's a straight up novelization? Are the studios banking on the fact that you'll buy the novel, even if it's the same plot as the movie?

Also, do the authors go off the script and talk to the screenwriters to get more backstory? Cuz I imagine that might be cool (I'm imagining talking to Del Toro or someone like that for writing Pacific Rim)