The Film Industry has changed

Over the years, the film industry has changed in the stories they like to tell. While original material is still important, studios and producers look to existing materials in which to invest when producing movies. And one of the major sources of existing IP, or Intellectual Property, is the novel. Adapting a novel offer significant advantages when promoting a film to the marketplace. Thus, these adaptations now comprise one of the largest sources of material for mainstream films.

The largest advantage of adapting a novel, especially a successful book, into a movie is its built-in recognition, and with it, a built-in audience. When it is announced that a producer is turning a popular book into a movie, the buzz for its release is immediate. Fans of the book often discuss the upcoming movie in their social circles as well as on social media. Fan debate over casting, for example, adds to the film’s anticipation and helps create an emotional connection before shooting even begins.

For the producer, gaining the rights to a book and adapting it can attract first-rate talent that might be more difficult with an unknown, original piece of work. A hot book will attract A-list talent: actors, directors and screenwriters. Even if the story changes somewhat in development and the actors don’t match the physical descriptions in the book, the barrier against attracting talent is low.

Adapting a novel into a screenplay has credibility and recognition

Once the film is produced, marketing it becomes easier. The story already has credibility and recognition. A successful book creates an organic anticipation making it easier to promote and get press coverage. For the studio, this means less money to invest in marketing than for a movie based on original content.

Even screenwriters are turning to writing novels first, and the screenplay second. For novelists, learning how to adapt their own novel into a screenplay is an art unto itself. It’s not so easy as the process and structure is much different. But for the novelist who can master the art of screenplay adaptation, it opens an entirely new avenue for income and fame.

10 Steps to Adapting a Novel

  1. Determine the cinematic possibility of the novel
  2. Decide what thematically resonates with you
  3. Find the book’s framing device
  4. Define the main plots and subplots of the book
  5. Consider the story structure
  6. List out the characters
  7. Identify what can be cut
  8. Replace character “thoughts” with actions
  9. Develop for your audience
  10. Write the outline


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