Written By: Cadee Cooper
Adaptations account for a huge percentage of Hollywood films. They're also consistently rated among the highest grossing at the box office, a tradition that stems all the way back to adaptations of well-known literary and theatrical texts during the silent era.
However, did you know that only some authors of the books play a significant role in the movie adaptation? Many are consulted during the process of film making for their expertise in world building or character details, but only a few are directly involved in penning the screenplay.
How screenplays and novels differ
Writing a screenplay is different from writing a novel because while the plot stays the same, the technical language of movie making differs. Maryville University notes that writing a screenplay includes considering how actors learn their lines, the limitations of movie sets, where the camera is pointed, and how the takes will be edited.
Movies are limited by anything from technology to human capacity. Hence, authors aspiring to pen the movie adaptations of their books have to be familiar with the structures and formatting of a screenplay.
Curious to find out which authors wrote their books and movie adaptations? Here's a look at some big names.
The Godfather (1969), Mario Puzo
Used as a prime example in film schools, The Godfather’s script begins by introducing the audience to the Don. This is key, because Americans at the time weren’t as well-versed in stories about the mafia. After showing the unfamiliar, the script moves into a wedding, which almost everyone in the audience can understand.
These simple tricks of mixing the unfamiliar and familiar help the world building, and allows the audience to understand the perils of the Corleone family. Meanwhile, themes such as money, power, and violence keep the audience hooked. Puzo focused on an economic use of dialogue to establish character and conflict, a mark of an effective screenplay.
Pet Sematary (1989), Stephen King
One of the more successful screenplays of King was Pet Sematary, and astute fans will note that the adaptation changed the scene of Ellie’s ninth birthday party. This was surprisingly approved by King, who was notorious for critiquing previous adaptations of his work. Having come to recognize the challenges of writing screenplays, he was able to continue writing many more.
As King ages, fans can rest easy knowing that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. King’s son Joe Hill is trying his own hand at writing horror stories too, and audiences can look forward to his progress as Hill’s book “The Black Phone” receives its first adaptation.
The Exorcist (1973), William Peter Blatty
(Photo by: Amazon)
The novel terrified audiences in 1971. For the adaptation, Blatty knew that the only way the horror of the screenplay could come to life was through the creative usage of lighting, set design, and costumes that he had seen director William Friedkin previously employ on The French Connection (1971).
Thus, the two worked their way around the limitations of the set and stunts to be able to capture the supernatural horror on screen. The Exorcist (1973) would then be hailed as one of the scariest movies ever made.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012), Stephen Chbosky
(Photo By: Simon & Schuster)
When the opportunity for adaptation came, Chbosky persevered to produce a coming-of-age movie that tackled sensitive topics such as mental health or domestic abuse on screen.
He had to be careful to include strong dialogue that highlights the emotions of the characters, while still remaining meaningful for audiences of all ages. The iconic line of “We accept the love we think we deserve” has since been popularized, even among those who haven’t read or watched the story.
Many authors can only aspire to see their names on the big screen. With these examples as inspiration, writers and fans alike can look forward to many more successful adaptations in the film industry.
Written exclusively for readmoreco.com by Cadee Cooper