Three of my favorite movies were based on novels. I don’t know what qualities a movie producer and screenplay writer look for in order to bring a novel to life on the big screen, but I can imagine that a lot depends upon the level of suspense of the story and the characters who are tasked with revealing the plot. Memorable characters. Take the novel “Marathon Man.” The main character seems to be quiet, reserved, intelligent, and an introvert. Until he is captured and forced to tell the whereabouts of something that he has no idea exists, much less he knowledge of this thing’s location. Enter the villain, an elderly dentist with no remorse. Naturally torture is the only method he knows to extract information.From the beginning the reader is thrown into the horrible experience⎯unable to stop reading until a glimmer of hope is revealed. “Marathon Man” was a best selling thriller.
Consider the novels about Jason Bourne. Another unforgettable character with unbelievable skills. Skills that he needs for every twist and turn of the nightmare he finds himself in. In “The Bourne Identity,” a man is rescued from the ocean by a ship. He has a bullet wound and no memory of who he is. We later learn through inspiring intrigue that the man is Jason Bourne. “The Bourne Identity” was also a best-selling thriller.
Of course “Carrie” was Stephen King’s first novel. The story of a young girl who was bullied and mistreated in high school. She didn’t choose suicide like so many young people of today. She chose revenge. By simply being herself and using telekinetic powers to show the bullies that they needed to be nice. “Carrie” became a best-selling thriller.
Both plot and main character differ in all of these best-selling thriller novels, but all of them were suspense-filled, intriguing stories rife with excitement and danger⎯delightfully menacing. All the ingredients that make a satisfying and thrilling novel. And great movies!