How could a movie be paired to coincide with a book and come out at the same time?

I would like to know if a book and a movie can be written to complement each other? Many times I hear how a book or movie has its faults one better than the other in an opinion so can a "bovie" can be written where both formats work together instead of having discrepancies?

A series or episodes may work better giving the reader a chance to read the section pertaining with the book. They would come out together but be understood apart. It would be like reading about something you just watched getting the book benefits.

Why write a book when there's a movie in my head?

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    I'm not sure I understand what you're asking. Do you want to write both the book and the script? Do you want them to come out together? Do you want text to appear on screen? Commented Feb 23, 2019 at 17:48
  • @Galastel is this better?
    – Muze
    Commented Feb 23, 2019 at 18:27

3 Answers 3


This is definitely done and it's called novelization. Many of the movies you've seen may have one (sometimes more) even though you're probably not aware of it. Series also may have novelizations. (The term "novelization" also covers books that were done well after the movie was made.)

How it works is that the movie, being the big ticket item, drives the direction of the book, but the book is usually able to expand and explain some of the stuff that was left out of the movie. Some people enjoy doing this type of writing, but it's often subject to the whims of the people doing the movie:

The half-dozen authors I spoke to all had their fair share of difficulties when it came to dealing with the bigwigs behind these properties, from being given a lack of information about the film to impossibly quick turnaround times (try writing a book in a nine-day span, like Max Allan Collins did on In the Line of Fire) to last-minute rewrites of the script. Terry Brooks was forced to deal with the latter situation on Steven Spielberg’s 1991 flick, Hook.
Yes, People Still Read Movie Novelizations . . . And Write Them, Too

In other cases, the book is based on an early draft of the script or it just takes liberties and makes changes, so the movie and the book don't end up matching.

And sometimes the book even comes out before the movie it's based on. One example I'm aware of is Ralph Breaks the Internet, which came out November 5, 2018 while one of its novelizations came out October 9, 2018.

Here are some lists of novelizations:


It's technically possible, but logistically difficult. The path to public release is very different between novels and movies - as @Laurel notes, even official novelizations often suffer from too-fast turnarounds, lack of information, and script changes. Essentially, a novel is considered "final" at a very different point in its publication cycle than a movie is. In order to make a complementary book-movie pair, you would need to drastically change the manner and timelines in which both are produced - a process which is complicated by the sheer number of people, studios, and companies involved.

For example, you're probably familiar with the improvised scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark, where instead of the planned dramatic fight scene between Indy and the Arab swordsman, Indy simply pulls his gun and shoots the guy. Now consider: if you were trying to write a companion novel based off the script, you might have already written the big dramatic fight, which now needs to be cut. That sounds simple enough, but what if that change had happened on the last day of shooting, when the novel is finished and out of the author's hands?

What if the change had been more complex? For example, Han Solo's "I know" to Leia was improvised. What if an entire chapter of the novelization was devoted to Leia's inner monologue coming to terms with his original line ("I love you too"), and now needs to be completely rewritten? Again, possible, but logistically very difficult.

There's also the matter of the huge difference between the kinds of stories books tell, and the kinds of stories movies tell. One of the most important things I learned when getting my screenwriting degree was the following: Books tell stories through thoughts, stage plays tell stories through dialogue, and movies tell stories through action.

This is obviously not to say you can't have action in books, or thoughts in movies, but books are far better suited to sharing characters' inner thoughts and feelings with the reader than a movie is. A movie is much better at conveying action sequences than a book is. A Hollywood action sequence might take five minutes on screen, but showing the same amount of content in a novel might take fifty pages or more. A subtle character arc can take place over 500 pages of a novel, but feel abrupt and on-the-nose in a 90-minute movie. In theory, this sounds like it ought to support your idea of a book/movie pair meant to supplement each other - but if you look at novelizations of movies, and movies made from books, you start to quickly see pitfalls.

Novelizations often suffer from a lack of depth, as the stories of the movies they're describing are both not long enough for a traditional novel (incidentally, this is why short stories make better movies than novels do), and not internal enough. The story told in the movie typically isn't concerned with the inner thoughts and feelings of its characters, and it's hard to post-facto create enough of those thoughts & feelings to fill a novel.

Likewise, movies made from books are frequently criticized for leaving out massive and important parts of the book, as well as mangling characters. Movies simply don't have the space to tell the same scale of story as a novel, and likewise cannot easily show character depth (at least not without using gimmicks like voiceovers).

Essentially, books and movies are designed to tell very different kinds of stories at very different scales. It's possible to turn one into the other, but the translation is almost never perfect and much is often lost. Combined with the logistical difficulties of creating an interlinked book/movie pair, it means doing so is generally not worth the time, effort, and cost when instead you could produce a great standalone movie or novel.

Therefore, in order to make this happen, the publisher and producer would have to carefully coordinate their respective final products from concept to release. It would require extensive cooperation and planning, and would likely only be undertaken for a very, very well-known property, or a writer or director/producer/star who is popular enough to be worth the risk. And it would need a story which contains enough inner thoughts/feelings/character development and enough external action to benefit from the dual format.

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    +1, that's an awesome answer. And precludes anything I could say about it!
    – Amadeus
    Commented Feb 25, 2019 at 12:15

Books and movies are very different media, they have different strengths and weaknesses. Movies are very visual, and they are relatively "shorter," meaning any given event will take up a larger portion of a movie than a book. Movies should almost always "show, not tell" but that advice doesn't always hold true for books. Because of this, artistically successful adaptations of books are often quite different in large and small ways than their source material.

It's possible for a commercially successful adaptation of a beloved book to be just more or less a filmed, kinetic illustration of the text, but that tends to make for a much less interesting movie. Conversely, when a movie is novelized, it usually needs to add layers of psychological depth, subplots and backstory in order to not be painfully short and shallow.

Writing a "bovie" would be an interesting challenge to set yourself. Getting one simultaneously published and produced, however, would be likely impossible (except for someone like JK Rowling, who has proven successes AND powerful connections in both realms). I also don't see it being nearly as interesting to the reader as it would be to the author, unless the book and movie covered entirely different but linked narratives. I could see that potentially be very interesting --if, for example, the book was one that all the characters in the movie were reading, but that didn't previously exist in the real world.

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