Screen Rights - Words to Film


As challenging as it may be to write, edit and publish a novel, a unique challenges arise when adapting a novel for the screen. Depending on the circumstance, authors and screenwriters may work together to various degrees, or sometimes, not at all.

Managing the relationship between author and adaptor can be precarious. Some authors have minimal input for the screenwriter, adding little direction to the adaptation. Others can be virulently protective of their work demanding creative control and requiring approval for changes of the smallest detail.

Not surprisingly many novelists graciously cooperate in the adaptation effort which seems to be an ideal arrangement for a successful project. Whether highly involved or absentee, the contribution of the author and creative freedom of the screenwriter must combine to produce a quality screen ideas that will hold true to the the original work.

This fine balance of control is evident with every project but it is a question as many stories have unravelled during the trip from paper to screen. Ideally, a connection can be made where the author and novel provide insight and guidance and the screenwriter translates that information to the screen while preserving the essence of the work.

In this process it’s important for the screenwriter to engage themselves in the text to find their own meaning in order to create a film that shows significance of its story. By incorporating his or her own interpretation of the book, the screenwriter takes part in the creation of the story which makes it easier to transfer to the screen.

Ultimately, it is essential for both author and adaptor to recognize the differences in experience between watching a movie and reading a novel. The ability of an author to fill in missing details in a scenario is often much more difficult to portray on film while still captivating the audience.

To bridge this gap, scriptwriters can lay out this through action and character development in order to keep the film moving. Those who are challenged by this concept often fall back on narrative to fill in the missing pieces but that practice is considered faulty by most dramatists as the audience tends to disengage during slow or tedious portions of a movie.

Successful screenwriters avoid a common error were they try to change the book to fit the movie rather than recreating the story as drama. By dramatizing the text, writers can maintain faithfulness to the message and move the story along. However they shouldn’t be afraid to leave out sections that just won’t work on screen and be inspired enough to add material that helps the audience to grasp the intended meaning.

In the end, it is ultimately up to the screenwriter to determine the best way to tell the story. It is up to them to understand the meaning of the story in their own terms and translate the spirit of the work to the screen in order to bring it to life in a way that can be appreciated an understood by all.


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