The simple fact is that fiction and film are different: as authors we rarely, if ever, think about the cinematic aspects of our work.
Often a written work will set a seemingly impossible standard for adaptation, with long detailed sentences, page-spanning paragraphs and comprehensive descriptions outlining a characters’ thoughts. A screen adaptation will remove all that and focus on events. There is no denying the things that make a great written work, such as narration; interior thoughts of the characters and writing style may be disregarded in the visual adaptation of the work as it transitions onto the screen.
Knowing if your work could transition to screen successfully, can be difficult, but as a starting point consider if your story contains three essential elements:
- A relatable PROTAGONIST– someone the audience can identify with from the very commencement of the film.
- An EXTERNAL IMPETUS that the protagonist aims to achieve by the conclusion of the film. This generates a finish line, allowing the audience to be engaged with the characters journey.
- Putting everything on the line. This seemingly simple act allows the audience to share in the characters highs and lows throughout the film.
There’s no denying film is a VISUAL MEDIUM. So, consider that movie storylines must be easily expressed in a single sentence. Also keep in mind stories that are hard to categorize are also hard to sell compared to stories that deliver a relatable experience and offer a predictable outcome.
When considering these experiences, two quotes from Stephen King come to mind:
Books and movies are like apples and oranges. They both are fruit but taste completely different.
I love the movies, and when I go to see a movie that’s been made from one of my books, I know that it isn’t going to be exactly like my novel because a lot of other people have interpreted it. But I also know it has an idea that I’ll like because that idea occurred to me, and I spent a year, or a year and a half of my life working on it.
That’s the allure of many adaptations. Even at their worst, they all work off ideas and concepts that were at one time unique and exciting enough to compel the author to write anywhere from 300 to 2,000 pages.
Start your exciting journey in the world of adaptation with Queensland Writers Centre and Screen Queensland by submitting your work into Adaptable.
Open to writers Australia wide, the contest accepts any genre, fiction or non-fiction, published or unpublished. The deadline for submissions is 3 December 2018, make sure you make the most of this fabulous opportunity.