Novice Mistakes To Avoid When Converting A Book To Screenplay

Novice Mistakes To Avoid When Converting A Book To Screenplay

It is vitally important to avoid these novice mistakes when adapting your novel into a screenplay to enter it into screenplay contests.

Screenwriting is vastly different from writing a novel or true-story book. It is a different medium and needs to be treated as such. It is a difficult format that even few authors are able to master very quickly once they check out the basics of adapting a novel into a screenplay.

To help you with adapting your novel into a script format, so you can enter it into a screenplay contest like Page Turner Awards Screenplay Award, here are a few common mistakes new screenwriters make:

Starting Your Screenplay Adaptation Too Late

Most novels can and often do begin at a leisurely pace, with scene descriptions, character backgrounds, character feelings and other elements of a novel. However, as screenplays normally run to a maximum of 120 pages, with much of that being 'white space' a screenplay has to get moving so much faster than it's novel partner.

Unnecessary Description in Your Screenplay Adaptation

A screenplay uses minimal description. It's that simple. Only just enough to tell the reader where they are when the adapted screenplay opens with a general tone of the world that the adapted screenplay's setting. Screenwriting experts say: Leave the rest up to the director and the art director!

Stating The Obvious in Your Screenplay Adaptation

A tendency of novice screenwriters, or authors who are learning how to adapt their novel into a screenplay, so they can enter it into a screenplay contest, is to have characters tell us what we just witnessed on the screen.

For example, if there's a race going on in one of your screenplay adaptation scenes, where the character crossed the finish line, you really don't need to have another character spell it out for the viewers by saying: He just won the race.

Screenplays are visual, so the viewer will see it right there on the screen. Think visual all the time!

Formatting Your Screenplay Adaptation

In our other articles about adapting a novel to a screenplay, you will see that screenplays follow a strict format ~ this also includes screenplay adaptations. The first thing a film producer or Hollywood Reader (whose job it is to read scripts for their bosses) does is check the format. If it's wrong, they throw away the script without further attention. Follow the standard format, or you will be penalized and your novel's story may never get to the big screen.

Length Of Your Screenplay Adaptation

Most feature film scripts are usually 90 - 120 pages, though close to 100 is usually preferred by film producers and film production companies who are actively looking for scripts to option for film.

The reason is that one page of a screenplay is considered to translate into one minute of screen time. Industry execs will generally not read a script that is of improper length.

Too Much Dialogue in Your Screenplay Adaptation

One big newbie mistake that authors (who are adapting their novel into a screenplay to enter it into a screenplay contest) do is to write page after page of dialogue. Films are primarily a visual medium. There should be a good balance of dialogue and physical action, favouring action. Action does not necessarily mean gun fights and car chases. It means the characters are doing something, and just like novels, a screenplay must always be moving the story forward.

Be sure you find out everything about adapting a novel to a screenplay.