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Adapting A Book To A Screenplay

By Author: Peter James
Total Articles: 37

Adapting a book to a screenplay is a colossal and complicated task. Yet, screenwriters often opt to use the story of a book, article, TV show, play, magazine, another film or personal experience instead of using an original idea. Reasons for adopting this stance could be because they were impressed by the story, they had their eyes fixed on the Academy Award or because they had been approached by the bigwigs of the film industry to do so. In any case, the task is cumbersome and requiring the writer to put in just as much or more efforts than a writer working on an original idea. Few have the talent needed for adapting a book to a screenplay, and those who do enjoy great versatility in writing. Fidelity or faithfulness of the script to the book adapted varies according to the author's discretion. It becomes necessary for the author to alter the original version of the text to suit the cinematic world for adapting a book to a screenplay.
A large number of box office hits of Hollywood are fantasy or sci-fi movies and surprisingly, most of these are adaptations of books. Adapting a book to a screenplay is financially profitable for the writers. In fact, it works both ways. The book adapted gets exposure and new recognition from the public. This could fetch great amount of laurels for the author of the book, catapulting his career overnight. Not every printed word can be translated into visual language. When adapting a book to a screenplay the writer has to pay heed to a few points. Most importantly, while downsizing the lengthy book without losing its essence is far from simple. Industry conventions have to be adhered to. This implies that lofty descriptions and thoughts twirling in the heads of the characters can only be succinctly depicted through their actions, reaction, and body language. The story of the book has to be worked upon a great deal by the writer to transform it into a composition acceptable by the film industry.
Adapting a book to a screenplay calls for a thorough understanding of the principles involved with writing books as well as with screenwriting. Film is a different medium and scripts to be used require a specific way of handling. The format, language, structure, and length are entirely dissimilar from that of books. The writer must first thoroughly understand the story and characters. He or she must then become familiar with the characters in the book, eliminate some or add a few to tack loose ends, if any. Scenes too may need to be combined done away with or altered to maintain a smooth flow. It is fairly easy to cover several years in print but becomes slightly difficult when adapting a book to a screenplay. The beginning and the end have to be dramatic. Custom tailor them to suit the rest of the story. It is a good idea to create sympathy for the protagonist at the end.

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