Literary Adaptations

Everyone, even Zrs, has heard or will most likely hear the adage “the book is better than the movie.”  No matter how good the adaptation is,  something is usually lost in the process. It may be the ability of the reader to interpret the content in a novel using his/her own imagination.  Traditionally,  the highest grossing Hollywood movies have been adapted from popular books.  Best selling books, already well received by audiences, lower the investment risk of making a film.

For writers, adaptations are sometimes more challenging to create than an original piece because you must work with what you have.  If you are thinking about adapting your novel or feature screenplay to a TV Series, it’s best to consult with professionals who can guide you.  TAT Productions offers professional adaptation services and competitive rates for independent filmmakers.  Make sure to visit for more information.

There are many kinds of adaptations.

  • Book/novel to film,
  • Film screenplay to TV series
  • Book/novel to play
  • Play to film

You can adapt any type of writing from one format to another in literary arts, even poetry.  I’ve always envisioned adapting Langston Hughes poetry to film, for example.

My Experience

The first adaptation I made was from novel to short film at AI-MIU back in 2012-2013 when I started this chosen journey of screenwriting and filmmaking.  The next one was also part of my first project (Spiderwoman, Spyderwoman, Hybrid, Legends from the Future, and Utopia) which started out as a short story.  Stories are malleable and continuous.  From a 300 page book, today’s staff writers create multiple TV seasons with dozens of episodes.

How to Create an Adaptation

No matter what the format is, the first thing a writer could do is to break the story down into its literary elements.

  • Characters
  • problem/plot
  • resolution
  • events
  • settings
  • tone
  • the inciting incident
  • the climax

Each element must be pulled apart and fully described and developed according to the format being adapted into.  Then, an outline is drawn from the beginning to the end defining the arc of the story.  The events triggered by the inciting incident rise to a climactic point where the problem will be either solved or not, culminating in its resting ground at the end.  Characters also have an arc, a TV series has an arc, every season has an arc, and every episode has one, too. That’s a lot of arcs.

What is an arc?

A narrative arc is the overall structure and form of a film or episode from beginning to end.  In simple terms, the beginning, middle, and end.  According to the time-tested story-telling formula most used in contemporary narratives such as film whether fiction or nonfiction, as exposed by Joseph Campbell in his books, “The Power of Myth” and “The Hero of a Thousand Faces” the hero must be someone real and likable but also imperfect.  This hero receives a calling which he/she will refuse to follow at first, but will ultimately be his/her destiny. Along the hero’s journey, there will be many challenges and obstacles to overcome. There will be allies and enemies, tricksters and mentors, among others.

It is important to note that as of late, female film protagonists have increased to an all-time high of 29% in 2016 according to the Center for the Study of Women in TV and Film.

If you have a book or movie to adapt contact

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