Do Movies Influence Novels?


I love movies.  I have always enjoyed all genres of movies – especially mysteries, suspense and thrillers. Oh, and cop thrillers of course.  I’ve often wondered if my movie enthusiasm has helped to shape my writing style and subject matter I choose to incorporate into a novel.

It’s true that many movies are adapted from books.  But what about movies generating (or inspiring) characters and storylines for novels?  Writers have written stories inspired from newspaper headlines.  It’s just the idea of some high-profile case or newsworthy article that can prompt an avalanche of ideas.

For me as I outline the action scene, I ask myself questions like:

What pushes the protagonist?

What pushes the antagonist?

What will ultimately be the goal or outcome for all characters involved?

How can these characters use the surrounding to their advantage?

What clever or hair-raising way can the protagonist get out of this predicament? (this is my ultimate favorite)

After I wrote and completed my first Emily Stone Novel, Compulsion, I had a few readers tell me that the warehouse scene made them think of the warehouse in the 1970s blockbuster The French Connection.  Wow, I thought that was a huge compliment because it’s one of my absolute favorite cop films.  If you have not seen this movie, I strongly suggest checking it out.  It has an amazing car chase scene.

Then I started thinking about it.  Did I have that image in the back of my mind and my memory produced it when I wrote a particular scene?  We view so many images from television, movies, news reports, and the Internet.  It is possible that I needed an image ingrained in my subconscious and “poof” The French Connection warehouse came to mind when I needed a creepy, desolate warehouse…  I won’t tell you anymore because I hate spoilers.

Here are two photos from The French Connection… Now this is a very spooky, dark, isolated warehouse.  Would you want to be trapped here?  What kind of storyline would you create from these warehouse images?


I started mentally going through some of my favorite movies like The Abyss, The Flock, Lethal Weapon, L.A. Confidential, Marathon Man, DieHard and many more… There are powerful performances and storylines in these films that help to embrace the imagination of writers.  I like to think of it as visual brainstorming.

What are some of your favorite or most memorable scenes from a blockbuster film? Have you written a scene in a novel inspired by something you saw in a film?



Be sure to sign up for my BOOK & CRIME NEWSLETTER to stay updated on exclusive content and updates not posted anywhere else.


About jchasenovelist

Published thriller author, criminologist, and blogger.
This entry was posted in Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Do Movies Influence Novels?

  1. Great post, Jen. My dad was a Sergeant with the NYPD (’65 – ’88), and knew the guys portrayed in the French Connection.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That is so COOL Kevin!! There have been many great cop films since, but The French Connection is such a classic for me 🙂 I was a tiny kid when it came out, but from what I understand from people who saw it in the theater, it blew them away.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Movies influence my writing, but music really brings the ideas out. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. R P Bird says:

    The French Connection has always been one of my favorite cop movies from the moment I first saw it as a kid. But one thing struck me when I watched it again recently on TV. Popeye and his partner really aren’t very good at their jobs. This isn’t so much a story about hero cops on the job as it is about a couple of screw-ups who are out of their depth, willing to do almost anything to “win.” Win against whom? The drug dealer, the Frenchman, seems almost irrelevant to their plans. Oh, they chase after him, but their superiors and competitors inside NY law enforcement seem to be the ones they really want to triumph over. Just a thought. Maybe this is why I like the movie so much.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s