The counterpart to The Film of the Book
: A novelization retells the story of the film in novel form. In some cases this can even go as far as a book based on the film of the book
(distinct from just re-releasing the original novel with a film poster slapped on the cover
At best, the novelization is a faithful rendition of the film's story that takes additional time to explore and explain things the movie didn't have time to do itself (like the inner motivations of the characters, or justification for certain plot holes); at worst, you end up with something that reads like someone copied the film script and added "It Was a Dark and Stormy Night
" at the top.
Novelizations are also often put together quickly, using an early draft of the film's script so that the author can finish the writing and have the book published to tie in
with the movie's theatrical release; this incurs a very real risk that the copy of the script the author was working from may differ substantially from the final script used in filming (this happened with Chris Claremont's X2: X-Men United
novelization, amongst many others). If the movie winds up having its release delayed, the book might be in something of a no man's land when it comes to sales, while the film itself is potentially spoiled by anyone who reads the novel (which happened to Penelope
). On the other hand, sometimes the book is better than the movie, especially if the movie wasn't great in the first place.
The novelization is not exclusive to film; episodes of popular television shows may be novelized as well (for example, almost all of the Doctor Who
original series serials were novelized), as can Comic Book Story Arcs
, and even video games (usually ones with strong narrative elements, like RPG's). These vary from Expanded Universe
material to complete bastardizations that only bear the name of the original.
See also Tie-In Novel
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Anime and Manga
- Robotech was adapted into a successful 12-volume novel series by "Jack McKinney" (a pen name for James Luceno and the late Brian Daley). The series led to several Television Tie In Novels.
- The novelizations were declared to be Canon Discontinuity by the current head of Robotech licencing and production... and then the ones based on the TV series were later re-issued with new covers under the current Robotech branding. However, the novel-exclusive stories and related omnibus remain out of print.
- The Super Dimension Fortress Macross franchise likewise had novelizations of the series and movie, (the movie one, in particular, restores a number of plot points, and adds new scenes [such as a mock combat between Hikaru and a newly-recruited Max Jenius]) though good luck finding translations, as those folks one entry upward haven't budged...
- Most of the Gundam series have had novel adaptations, sometime resolving very different from the anime. And there are also side stories and sequels that originate as novels. Notable is Beltochika's Children; it was originally Yoshiyuki Tomino's rejected plot for Char's Counterattack, which, in turn, is an adaption of Tomino's novel Hi-Streamer. In other words, it's a novelization of The Film of the Book (by the same author).
- Even the Slice of Life yonkoma Hidamari Sketch was adapted into Light Novels.
- The Story Arc of the Superman comics where he died and returned was made into a novelization by Roger Stern. It's generally considered better than the original, partially due to cutting out the various running subplots, crossovers, and Dark Age tropes.
- Likewise, the novelization for the Batman: No Man's Land story arc is also better. (With the exception of completely removing Catwoman, Superman, and Azrael from the plot.) With a plot that spread out over a year and, like Superman's death, was covered in at least four different titles with different writers, the novel smoothed the rough edges brilliantly.
- For every good adaptation however, there are crappy ones. "52" omitted large portions of the storyline, while Crisis on Infinite Earths and Infinite Crisis are written under the assumption that the person reading it is familar with the story, meaning casual readers will have no clue what's going on....
- There are many instances of novelizations in comic book form, outside of Recursive Adaptations of comic book-based films. Many of Marvel's Super Special books were novelizations of late 70s/early-mid 80s films, and adaptations of Star Wars (back when it was just Star Wars and not Episode IV) and The Empire Strikes Back appeared in serialized form as issues of their ongoing Star Wars comic, though Return of the Jedi was published as a separate mini-series (and both Empire and Jedi were published as Super Specials as well. DC released novelizations of some of the Star Trek films as one-shots while they held the rights to publish Trek comics.
Live Action TV
- Star Trek has novelizations for many episodes. Alan Dean Foster's Log books, novelizations of Star Trek The Animated Series, do an especially good job at fleshing out the stories and characters and adding depth, so much so that it's hard to enjoy the series if you read the books first. Nothing against the series here, except Filmation's ultra-cheap animation. The Log books are just that good.
- Foster did it again with the reboot film, and he included scenes that would be cut from the final release.
- The entirety of The Eighties TV miniseries V, together with its sequel V: The Final Battle were novelised by A.C. Crispin in one doorstopper of a book. It works well, mostly because Crispin doesn't just stick to the scripts. Having said that, the transition between miniseries and finale is awkward. ("Four months later", anyone?)
- The book contains a couple of shoutouts - a helicopter pilot is named "Joe Harnell" (Harnell scored the first miniseries); two of Mike Donovan's colleagues are named after TV writers Sam Egan and Jeri Taylor (who at the time were working at Universal, as creator Kenneth Johnson had done).
- British police drama The Bill had scripts from its first seven seasons novelised as compilation volumes by author John Burke. This proved simple enough in the original seasons, when there were only 12 episodes each year. After the programme shifted to doing 90+ episodes a year, liberties began to be taken about which scripts could be adapted and which ones couldn't. One advantage of the novels was that they took the separate episodes and wove them into a single, flowing storyline. Eventually, the TV series itself would do it, too.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer (and its spin-off, Angel), like many The WB/The CW productions, has a large number of both original novels and novelizations. The occasional good novelization (for example, The Diary of Rupert Giles, Vol.1, ironically by Nancy Holder, author of the infamously atrocious post-season 7 original novel Queen of the Slayers) seeps in. But most appear to be nothing more than copies of the script with the stage directions edited into prose format, such as the novelization of the TV series' first episode, The Harvest.
- This happens to a good number of Australian kids' shows. Both series of The Girl From Tomorrow got one, both series of Spellbinder had two each, and Blue Water High has had a novelization of the first season written from the viewpoint of one of the characters. These commonly are word-for-word transcriptions, with each episode taking up a chapter. The Blue Water High series is notable for breaking away from that—the series itself rotates the protagonists' viewpoints.
- The first season of Round the Twist was novelised in a single book with behind-the scenes extra info, and the third and forth seasons had novelisations of each episode.
- Home and Away has been novelized.
- The 10th Kingdom was co-written, under the pseudonym Kathryn Wesley, by the husband and wife team of Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith. Seeing as it was based on an earlier version of the screenplay, it suffered from invalidated script syndrome. The end result contains some things which would have made for intriguing scenes in the movie (such as the Queen telling the Dog Prince a "bedtime story" about how she came to end up in prison, the literal burying of the magic axe, Virginia's Recurring Dreams about Wolf, or an interesting variation on the Swamp Witch's cottage scene with Clay Face rather than Acorn). Other sections have some surprisingly deep explorations of character and motivation, such as the longer conversations between Virginia and the Huntsman, Virginia and the Queen, Virginia and Snow White, or Virginia and Tony about her mother; or where they hear in Little Lamb Village about the Trolls ravaging the kingdom and Tony, who accidentally golded Wendell, feels responsible. And some explanations for otherwise headscratching moments are included, such as the old woman in the forest and the Cupid girl in Kissing Town both being Snow White in disguise. There's also lots of fun snarking in the characters' thoughts, especially Wolf's and Tony's.
- A large portion of Monty Python's Big Red Book consisted of sketches from Monty Python's Flying Circus edited into humor book format. (As the show was Sketch Comedy, the book isn't a novel per se.)
- A few early Murder, She Wrote episodes received the novelization treatment. The author used the extra space to add depth and plug the occasional perceived plot/characterization irregularity.
- Doctor Who stories began to be novelised soon after the show debuted, and from 1973 Target published almost every single Doctor Who story from the original series run in novel form, plus several unbroadcast stories such as audio drama The Pescatons and three stories slated but never made from the cancelled Series 23. In the era before home video, the Doctor Who Novelisations were the only way many young fans had to relive the story. Despite their literary shortcomings (with some honourable exceptions), they are still sought-after and fondly remembered to this day.
- The Sarah Jane Adventures also has novelisations of all the first season, the first two stories of season 2 and "The Wedding of Sarah Jane". They use the space to add scenes that explain a few things (like adding events from "The Sontaran Strategem" and "The Poison Sky" shown from Sarah Janes viewpoint to "The Last Sontaran") and add Ship Tease for Characters (like Luke/Maria in "The Last Sontaran").
- Yes Minister and Yes, Prime Minister found its way into print in the form of James Hacker's memoirs. (With the editors sprinkling in additions gleaned from the private papers of Sir Humphrey Appleby and Sir Bernard Woolley.)
- British-published novelizations of American TV shows were everywhere in the 1980s; some only had one book because of the parent show's short run (Automan, Shannon), others got into plural figures (like Knight Rider and Street Hawk - the latter only lasted for 12 episodes after the pilot, but there were four books published covering said pilot and six regular episodes), with the champion being The A-Team (which clocked up ten books* - only the first six of which were published in the US).
- Both seasons of the CBBC sitcom serial BAD Boyes were novelised by creators Jim and Duncan Eldridge, as BAD Boyes and BAD Boyes And The Gangsters. Written in First-Person Smartass, they add plenty of extra detail, and lots of Hypocritical Humour as the High School Hustler is outraged by everyone else's dishonesty. The forward to the first book also did some Canon Welding, revealing that Boyes was the unnamed diarist in the Eldridges' How To Handle Grownups series.
- Dempsey And Makepeace had six books by various writers, with the first by Jesse Carr-Martindale (one of the show's writers) - unusually, the first book wasn't based on the premiere as much as on a later season 1 episode, "Makepeace, Not War" - and the next two by Starburst regular/author John Brosnan under the pseudonym John Raymond. Brosnan got into trouble with London Weekend (the show's producers) when parents complained that he'd made the stories somewhat more explicit than the series was - in Lucky Streak (based on the episode of the same name and "Judgement") Makepeace shoots a rapist in the crotch, which does not happen in "Judgement." The rapist in the episode isn't black, either.
- The Red Dwarf novels are somewhere between a novelisation and an original Tie-In Novel, taking elements from the episodes and connecting them together with original material. (The first one, for instance, combines elements of "The End", "Future Echoes", "Kryten", "Me2" and "Better Than Life" with an original plot in which Lister comes up with a plan to get back to Earth.)
- Warhammer 40000 has an impressive number of novelizations and short stories set in its universe. The quality of writing varies but is usually decent. At least one series supposedly changed the way an entire faction was perceived by the fanbase; Games Workshop (which both makes the tabletop game and publishes the literature under its own publishing branch) knew a good thing when it saw it and adjusted accordingly.
- The number of novels based directly on or set in the various game worlds of Dungeons & Dragons is immense. In today's large bookstores, there can be multiple shelves of them.
- Magic: The Gathering has a large number of novels and comics, as well, most of them of surprisingly good quality.
- Baldur's Gate, a Role-Playing Game, had a novelization.
- Games Planescape: Torment and Star Control were made into books.
- The Tex Murphy adventure game The Pandora Directive has a hard-to-find novelization written by the Tex Murphy co-creator Aaron Conners.
- Doom had a tetralogy. The first basically imitated the plot of the game — think about that for a moment. The rest took place on an After the End Earth that had been overrun by demons and zombies, and then moved into far stranger sci-fi waters. Interesting reads, but definitely not what one expects when one picks up a book based on a game about killing monsters from hell.
- Rand and Robyn Miller, the original creators of the Myst franchise, collaborated with David Wingrove on a trilogy of novels that served as a sequel, prequel, and an even earlier prequel to the games themselves.
- There was a Myst strategy guide that read as a novelisation. It included things like a brief backstory segment of the main character being a photographer (explaining the screenshots throughout the book) who found the Myst book in a library while looking for photography books. It also intentionally had him make mistakes on some puzzles to illustrate what you have to do if something goes wrong. The guide also included a more standard strategy guide format after the novelization version.
- The Riven: The Sequel to Myst answerbook uses the same approach. It has sections that have varying solution reveals, from obtuse questioning the environment to a literal walkthrough of the game in short story form. The latter is a true novelization of the game and is a decent read.
- The Halo series has several books connected to it, expanding the plot outside of the original parameters and filling in gaps, including but not limited to covering the deeds of the Spartans other than Master Chief John-117. They're quite decent.
- An interesting semi-example: Nintendo's official Strategy Guide for The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was written in a novelization format (for example, instead of telling the reader directly "Light the torches to open the door", it was "Link saw some unlit torches. When he lit them, the door opened.") The guide also contained official art and background information that can't be found anywhere else. It was somewhat entertaining, but that extra atmosphere didn't do much good when you were lost in the Water Temple for four hours. (Nintendo apparently agreed — they haven't tried anything similar since.) There was also a straighter novelization of the game, about which the less said, the better.
- They also made the guide for The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past a pseudo-novelization complete with summaries of the previous games' plots, official art, and specious but interesting descriptions of Hyrule's culture and history (which were mostly Jossed by Ocarina of Time).
- There are also several mangas of various games, including Ocarina Of Time, that are pretty fair themselves and sometimes include bonus side stories (some of which are dubiously canonical, but still fun). In fact, the side story for the The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask manga details the origin of the titular mask quite well.
- Several of Sierra's classic Adventure Game series had Strategy Guides (The Kings Quest Companion, etc.) that included novelizations of the games alongside more standard walkthroughs.
- Alan Dean Foster's 1984 Shadowkeep is said to be the first novel based on a video game.
- Infocom cashed in on the popularity of some of its text-based adventures by licensing Zork, Wishbringer, Planetfall and Stationfall to Avon Books.
- Resident Evil has the S.D. Perry novelizations of the games (which adapts all the games up to Zero) and the Keith R. A. DeCandido novelizations of the first three movies. There was also Biohazard: The Beginning, a non-canon prequel to the first game, three original Japanese novels, and a Japanese novelization of the first movie unrelated to DeCandido's version.
- Blizzard's key franchises WarCraft, StarCraft and Diablo all have several novelizations (WarCraft has mangas, as well) of varying quality. The Warcraft' ones have been mostly awful, but a couple of good ones are hidden in there. Some of the novels use scrapped material: Lord Of The Clans was originally meant to be an Adventure game. Nova reveals the upbringing of the main protagonist of StarCraft:Ghost. Even those that don't are largely canon.
- The Star Wars video game Shadows of the Empire had a novelization by Steve Perry, who also wrote for the Alien and Conan the Barbarian universes. This was particularly terrible and made it even clearer that Dash Rendar was a Han Solo knockoff.
- The Force Unleashed, another big multimedia Star Wars project by Lucasarts, received a novelization written by Sean Williams, which not only expanded on Starkiller's thoughts and motivations but developed his love interest Juno Eclipse far more than the game did. It was decently-received and spent a week on top of bestsellers lists.
- Command & Conquer: Tiberium Wars had a novelization, which alternated between surprisingly good to facepalm-inducingly bad. The main character got promoted from Private to Sergeant on his first day for no decent reason.
- When a fanfic is written specifically to relieve from the distaste, and it's much better than the official novelisation, it just speaks for itself.
- The Kingdom Hearts series has tie-in manga for each game.
- They also have novelizations, with many characters made angstier and made-up scenes that wind up contradicting game canon as the series progresses. Game director Tetsuya Nomura noted this in one interview, and it was probably a reason why he brought the novels' writer, Tomoco Kanemaki, on to actually help write the scenario for one of the actual video games, 358/2 Days, before writing the novel version (and even then, Nomura rewrote the script once she was done with it.)
- The Metal Gear franchise has the two Raymond Benson novels based on Metal Gear Solid and Metal Gear Solid 2, as well as a Japanese novelization of Metal Gear Solid 4 by Project Itoh which is soon going to be released in English with translations provided by Viz Media. There was also the F.X. Nine novel based on the NES game, but it was based on Konami of America's macekred localization of the game's plot (in which Vermon CaTaffy is the villain and Commander South is Snake's boss).
- The first X-Com game has had two novelizations made of it: An American one with a female Commander as the main character, and a Russian one that tells the tale of a member of your first eight recruits.
- The RPG Betrayal At Krondor had a novelization written by the author upon whose work it was based. The book took the "script" route, mostly putting fight scenes into words and adding banter where it might have been missing in the game - and cutting many, many sidequests and much banter and content from the game, in turn.
- Some Fan Fiction based on video games takes this route; just like official novelisations, the quality varies from "excellent exploration of the source material" to "wild tangents away from the plot of the game" to "glorified walkthrough". The same goes for Fan Fic novelisations, but for fairly obvious reasons these have an alarming tendency to become Dead Fic.
- The novelization of Douglas Adams's Starship Titanic was written by Terry Jones, who also voiced a parrot in the game.
- The Heart of the Tiger (Wing Commander III), The Price of Freedom ((Wing Commander IV), and The Movie (Wing Commander) expand further on the content of the games and novel, and in the case of the game novelizations provide the official storyline for the WC universe. (The players of the games get to decide what path they take.) The movie's novelization is the only place to see the Pilgrim traitor plot that was cut from the movie, and generally fixes some plot problems caused by or missed in post-production editing.
- Worlds Of Power.
- Descent had a trilogy of novels written. They're actually very good, taking what little plot the games had and massively expanding it. The stories do diverge a bit, but follow the same basic plot and themes. The author did an impressive job of taking the games' mechanics and providing believable parallels to them (for instance, Energy Centers, glowing hallways that restore the ship's power, don't exist in the novels, but the characters do plug the ship into the mine's power grid at one point to achieve the same effect).
- Ico has a decent novelization by Miyuki Miyabe (with an English translation courtesy of Alexander O. Smith), that expands a lot on backstory (like why Ico and Yorda are in the castle at all) and answering a lot of questions (such as why Ico doesn't have a health bar in the game).
- Assassin's Creed has a four part book series by Oliver Bowden.
- The first two generations of Pokemon had strategy guides there were written in the form of a story, making them informative and fun to read.
- The second Warcraft game had a big, fat strategy guide where the missions are told from the perspective of a member from both sides. Both narrators actually have articles on the WOWwiki.
- Crysis: Legion serves as one for Crysis 2. It's written by Peter Watts, which gives you a rather good idea about what to expect.
- X: Beyond the Frontier received a novelization in 2005 called Farnham's Legend, written by X series lead writer Helge T. Kautz and translated into English by Steve Miller and Andreas Fuchs. Unfortunately the English version is very hard to find and apparently never made it Stateside unassisted (you can get it from the Egosoft.com store, though).
- A Charlie Brown Christmas has been adapted into picture book format a number of times. Expect to see Early Bird Cameos by Marcie, Peppermint Patty, and Franklin, all of whom were absent from the original special as they hadn't debuted in the comic strip yet.
- A lot of Disney and Pixar animated films have junior novelizations which change plot elements: including scenes not present in the film (i.e., the novelization of The Lion King adding an extra scene in the ending where Simba is alone at the top of Pride Rock at night), changing the fates of certain villains (ie, the novelization of Cars 2 having Grem and Acer falling into a garbage truck instead of being beaten up inside a bar in London, England), etc.
- Beauty and the Beast opens with a version of the originally planned, fully dramatized prologue that was dropped due to time and budget constraints — a mist springs up around the castle when the Enchantress's curse is cast (suggesting that this is why the villagers apparently have no idea it exists) and it ends with the Beast on a balcony crying out for her forgiveness as she departs.
- Atlantis: The Lost Empire fills in a key detail with regards to Kida's fate: she returns after the crystal uses her to save Atlantis because the averted catastrophe is not the result of its powers being used for evil, as had been the case when Atlantis fell and her mother was pulled into it.
- The Jr. novelization for Up condenses the movie heavily, eliminating scenes alltogether, having important scenes take place off-page, thus making the pacing worse than the movie. This is most obvious in the climax where a 15 minute climax takes 10 pages to tell.
- An in-story example appears in The Simpsons episode "Itchy and Scratchy: The Movie", where Bart is forbidden to see the titular film, and tries to read the novelization (written by Norman Mailer, no less).
- Recess had three novelizations and one picture book. The picture book was based off of "The Great Jungle Gym Standoff", but adding Gus to the plot (who was absent during the episode), and the novels were based off of "The New Kid", "The Experiment", and Recess Schools Out.
- Sponge Bob Square Pants had a book based on the episode "Big Pink Loser".
- Each of the four BIONICLE Direct-to-Video movies have been adapted into novels, in such a way that they fit neatly into the ongoing novel series. Since they were written according to pre-finalized scripts, they were all different to various degrees from the films, and often contained deleted scenes. The book for the fourth movie in particular had a very different feel, since the writer allegedly wasn't aware that the movie would take a more "cartoony" approach.
- Inversion: three episodes of The Powerpuff Girls were derived from children's books, two episodes with the same titles as the books—"Powerpuff Professor" (on TV as PowerProf.), "All Chalked Up" (Him appeared as an old man in the book; as a butterfly on the episode), and "Substitute Creature."
- The novelization of the Powerpuff Girls movie was written by Amy Rogers, who also co-wrote the movie and the comic book adaptation.