The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

April 27, 2012

Benji Tunnell: More self-help titles should be made into movies

By Benji Tunnell
Globe Columnist

JOPLIN, Mo. — I’ve complained before about the seeming dearth of originality in Hollywood these days. It seems just about everything coming out is a remake, reimagining, sequel or adaptation. The movie industry must be one of the greenest around, what with all of the recycling it does.

But a recent trend makes me think that perhaps the idea well has run completely dry. It seems that the studios have now taken to adapting self-help and relationship books to the big screen, often just borrowing the title and little else.

We had “He’s Just Not That into You,” followed by “Think Like a Man” and the upcoming “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” When someone greenlights a movie adaptation of a pregnancy manual, I think it’s just time to give up.

But I’m nothing if not an opportunist, and if this is going to be the next big trend, then I want to grab my little piece of the pie. So I propose the following book conversions, complete with a short synopsis for those extra lazy screenwriters or studio execs:

Aspiring writers

I joked above about the lack of creativity in the movies today, but at least there is a local program that is encouraging creativity and offering an outlet for local young authors.

I wrote last summer about the Writing for the Soul Workshop, an outreach program that allows youth, many at risk, to find a healthy form of expression in the written word. The program gives students the opportunity to put their life experiences down on paper, with the personal essays and writings gathered and published in a book.

The first book, “Pieces of Me,” was a powerful, cathartic glimpse into the struggles and victories of the authors. The workshop is preparing to release a second edition on May 18, featuring more work from the young artists involved in the program.

The goal this time is to sell enough copies to make the New York Times best-seller list, an accomplishment that could do wonders for the self-esteem and confidence of these authors. In addition, the authors are paid royalties on the sale of these books, and the sales also fund trips to book signings through parts of the Midwest.

It was sheer circumstance that I stumbled upon these writers last year, and the book that they wrote is now a powerful addition to my library. I would encourage any out there with an interest in reading to support this program and these youth. The glimpses into the resiliency of the soul just might change your life.

You can pre-order the books or find more information at The books will also be available at online booksellers and at Vintage Stock, where several of the authors will be holding a book signing from 1 to 6 p.m. on May 19.

Rather than roll the dice on the next Nicholas Sparks or the latest “Twilight” rip off, try giving some new authors a chance, in more ways than one. You truly could help impact a life.

I will be giving away five copies of the book to readers of this column. To enter, all you have to do is send me an e-mail at First five e-mails received win, and I will take the books to get autographed before I send them out.

Encourage the future writers of America, or you may just see my above ideas make the big screen. And no one wants that.