Adapting your screenplay into a novel

Should you do it?

A lot of A-list screenwriters began as novelists: William Goldman, Joe Eszterhas, Ron Bass, Richard Price…

But then a lot of screenwriters didn’t. Take Billy Bob Thornton, for example, who came up with the idea for Sling Blade by concocting a monologue for himself as an actor. Or Frank Darabont, who started out as a set decorator.

For me, the question is one of access. Are you in America? If so, why aren’t you in Hollywood networking your ass off. I know I would be in a heartbeat.

So if you’re in the UK, Europe, or even as far away as Russia or Australia, maybe novelizing some of your work is a good way to get noticed.

But…

Make sure it’s a story that can be told on the printed page alone. I’ve seen some terrible novels adapted from screenplays. The two things are not the same. Novels focus on psychology, getting us into the heads of the characters. That’s exactly the opposite of a screenplay, which focuses on revealing ideas and psychology through action.

Which explains why there are some terrible adaptations of novels, and why the old adage that a bad novel makes a good movie may have some truth in it.

So I wouldn’t novelize a story just for the sake of it. It has to be something that will withstand the adaptation process.

And then the real fun begins. Because selling a novel is hard. In my experience, it’s actually harder to sell a novel than to sell a screenplay. But maybe that depends on where your preferences lie.

Also, the advent of self-publishing may have just changed the entire face of the publishing industry. Now anyone can publish without the need for a massive corporation. Obviously, that raises issues of quality control. It also makes it harder to stand out in a crowd so your e-book may get lost amid the clamor. I’d be interested to know what people think about that.

Next post, I’ll share a few of my experiences while publishing my e-book “Project Nine”.

 

 

 

 

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