Adaptation

Make Your Story A Movie: Adapting Your Book or Story for Hollywood

by John Robert Marlow
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Make Your Book A Movie: Adapting Your Book or Story for Hollywood (complete version)

by John Robert Marlow and Jacqueline Radley

Authors’ Note: This article, published in several versions (print and online) and repeatedly revised and expanded, has now been— appropriately—adapted into a book, which contains far more information than could possibly be squeezed into a single article or blog post. New material will continue to be added to the blog through additional posts, so book and blog will grow together. Book info, source list, reviews and sample chapters can be found on this site’s book page.

Most authors would like to see their work adapted for the big (or small) screen, but the path from here to there is, at best, unfamiliar-and can seem incomprehensible. Some bestsellers are made into movies, others ignored. Obscure books, short stories, and magazine articles are blessed by Hollywood’s magic, while thousands of screenplays are turned away. Harry Potter sells to Hollywood a mere year after publication, while The Lord of the Rings takes nearly five decades to hit the screen. What sense does that make? Is there no rhyme or reason here?

Well, yes, actually. But it’s hard to make out when-like most writers-you’re on the outside looking in. This article will take you through the looking glass and make some sense of the enigma that is the Hollywood adaptation process. More importantly, it will explain why some books are made into movies while others are not, and what you can do to make your book (or story) more attractive to filmmakers. To do that, we’ve pooled our own knowledge and consulted with several friends in the industry. Read more…