"The book was so much better than the movie."
The first time I ever used this cliche was upon seeing the movie Jurassic Park.
If someone were to ask me what my first adult fiction book was, I would probably say Jurassic Park. I could hardly believe I was capable of reading one story with so many pages.
As a result, I followed up Jurassic Park with other Crichton works including Congo, Sphere, The Great Train Robbery, and even his non-fiction book Five Patients (which inspired TV's ER).
Because of my interest in Michael Crichton, as well as my interest in writing...I very much looked up to Crichton and I remember as a class assignment in middle school we had to write a letter to someone famous, and I knew I wanted to write a letter to Michael Crichton.
My letter was simple. Per the assignment, I used the proper letter writing format...I'm sure it was block format with well calculated spacing. But the content of letter was simply a statement of interest that I admired his work and that I was curious what I must do in order to be an author.
Crichton responded to my letter, and I have to believe it was actually from him, partially because of it's direct response to my question and partially because of the content of his answer.
I am sure somewhere I could find this letter...but I don't need to find it to remember the gist of what it said. Crichton said in his letter to me that in order to be a good writer I didn't need to focus all my attention upon English and language classes.
Instead, Crichton urged, in order to be a great writer you had to have something to write about. He encouraged me to learn history and science.He urged me as an impressionable middle-schooler to learn about anything that interested me, and that from there I would have the necessary content and ideas to be a great writer.
You certainly don't need to read the cannon of Crichton's work to realize that Crichton's strength is not in his writing skills, metaphors, and figurative language. Instead it is the way he melds reality and real life details with fiction and possibility.
I really value Crichton's advice and while I am certainly have not become an author, I have treasured his advice and have challenged my self to learn as much as a can -- both breadth and depth.
Thank you Michael for your stories and for the way you encouraged me learn.
And as for those books that were better than the movies...well, we can't blame you.
Picture from Pop Matter's post on "The Admirable Michael Crichton."