Home > Uncategorized > Web Log 2013.8.22: Just Like the Singer/Songwriters

Web Log 2013.8.22: Just Like the Singer/Songwriters


Elmore John Leonard, Jr. (October 11, 1925 – August 20, 2013) was an American novelist and screenwriter. (en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/Elmore_Leonard)

Rum Punch = Jackie Brown!

Rum Punch = Jackie Brown!

How many of us would go to the next soul-stop satisfied with that epitaph in our obituary? I know I would.

I learned of his death from the R.S.Guthrie’s RobOnWriting blog Wednesday morning. Leonard was his hero. According to The Detroit News, Ernest Hemingway was Elmore Leonard’s hero. I guess we all have one. RIP Mr. Leonard. For some true-life, interesting tales about Mr. Leonard, see this article: “Elmore Leonard, the ‘Dickens of Detroit,’ wrote with gritty flair” From The Detroit News: http://buff.ly/13JSy0Z

But what struck me is that I knew he was an author, and I had heard of some of the movies and TV shows made from his books, but never really connected the two. It is only as I progress in my stages of seeking the title American Novelist (notice I didn’t say ‘great’) that I’ve begun to seek out the name of the author of movies I enjoy or learn from.

Should it bother me that films’ directors, producers and “talent” are prominently displayed in every ad, trailer and beginning credits, but you often have to search for the screenwriter and book author credits? I know it’s advertising. I know they push what they feel will sell the tickets or critics or DVD purchases. I’ve seen Stephen King’s and James Patterson’s names featured. It helps to sell.

I’ve learned from watching King movies over the years. I’ve learned to watch the movies before I’ve read the book. That’s because I always know the book will be better … truer to what the author is trying to say without the director’s and actors’ creative interpretations. Full of the richness of narrative. Getting into the character’s thoughts purely.

(*I shrug*) It’s two different industries, each feeding the other. I can appreciate the film’s version of personified terror even if it doesn’t match my imagination’s based on the literature. I love them each in different ways, though perhaps not equally. I don’t rush to buy the latest, greatest book, anymore than I rush to see the equally shouted motion picture headed for an Academy Award. But my love remains in the written word. The solitary profession. The spark of imagination that grows into an unexplored world. Yes, and sometimes the film takes that world a few steps further in a better direction. Of course it depends on the people involved.

But don’t you think in all those credits at the end of the show a special section devoted to the wordsmiths should appear? Author, screenwriter, proofreader, story editor, etc. Jeez, I never miss the star’s assistant or the caterers. But I often have to go to Wikipedia to find my peeps!

It’s like the singer/songwriters. You don’t know their work until they sing their own songs.

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  1. August 22, 2013 at 10:44 PM

    I agree. The saying is, Credit where Credit’s due. That ought to be put into practice more. It would perhaps help book sales if all films carried the words ‘ Based on a Book by….’ perhaps nice and large in the opening credits, but certainly in the closing credits, unless of course the author doesn’t want his name associated with this particular version of their words.CD’s do tend to be better I find in that often the songwriters name appears after the song title but it could still be better if the jewel case carried a booklet with the names perhaps followed by a place of contact ie. Tom Smith, Tin Pan Alley Publishing NY.In the ‘old days’ seeing Holland, Dozier, Holland on a Motown record would almost instantly guarantee it success but it never told us who they were.
    I’d die for an epitaph ( sorry) like David Prosser, Author, butt I’d kill for one that added ‘Of the Barsetshire Diaries.’ And if anyone filmed one of the books I should want people to know whose book it was based on.

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    • August 23, 2013 at 2:40 PM

      David, are you saying you never sat down to turn some of those adventures into a screenplay?! I’m suitably shocked. You could have your own comedy series on TV! Scripts are not as easy for me as novels. I need the word weight to speak my mind (written or spoken, I’m afraid). But you’d be great at it! Regardless, your reputation and the love of your fans will precede you to the pearly gates. I, on the other hand … let’s just say I fear I’ll be on a different path! But they say a lot of my friends are already there! LOL! But you’re right. Times are slightly more beneficial to writers today. At least you can find what you want on Wikipedia these days. I should program that onto a key on my keyboard. Many thanks for your thoughts.

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