There’s a new phenomenon sweeping the Hollywood landscape. Authors are being allowed to adapt their own works for the screen. For most of my career this has not been the norm. Typically, the studio would purchase the rights to your book and then bring in a screenwriter or two to “adapt” it—often to disastrous results, definitely to unnerving results for the author. Just ask Stephen King about The Lawnmower Man.
Recently, however, there seems to be a change in the air. Authors are being allowed to write the screenplays for their works, and some of the results have been stunning: Gillian Flynn wrote the movie adaptation of her novel, Gone Girl, Dennis Lehane adapted his short story The Drop, and Johnathan Tropper wrote This Is Where I Leave You. All three movies have received good notices from the critics.
With these successes, Hollywood will be more open to authors penning their novels for the screen. So what are you waiting for? Now is the perfect time for independent authors to start working on their screenplays.
As an author who’s spent most of my career writing for TV and film, I can tell you writing a screenplay is a very different animal than writing a novel. Animal? Heck, it might not even be considered the same species. If you haven’t written for the screen before it’s going to take some training, but if you’re a self-published or independent author, chances are you’re no stranger to training and learning new skills.
Take a screenwriting class, or buy a book on screenwriting. There are lots of good books on screenwriting out there. I trained so long ago I don’t want to steer you wrong on what to read so ask around. I will tell you Linda Seeger’s Making A Good Script Great was a good book for me, and helped me immensely with the writing and rewrite of the Academy Award nominated short film, Cadillac Dreams.
You know you’ve always wanted to see your book on the screen. It’s time to get to work on your screenplay. In a future post I’ll give you a few tips on what to do once your screenplay has been completed.
Happy Reading – Happy Writing
You can read more about Flynn, Lehane and Tropper in this Variety article.