Help adapting by Charles Harris - cinema audience looking at title on screen which reads "Based on the Novel"


This week I have two new resources for you if you want help adapting a book for film or TV, or are a reader/viewer who’s interested in seeing how writers set about transforming works for the screen.

And they’re both free.

Want help adapting?

Has someone told you your book would make a great movie or TV series? Maybe it’s you who thinks your story would work brilliantly on screen? Or you’ve written a work of non-fiction that would make for a riveting documentary?

Or perhaps, as I say, you’re interested to know how screenwriters deal with translating a work from one artform into another.

There’s no doubt writers can gain enormously from an adaptation. There’s good money in film and TV – often more than in publishing. And there’s the chance of good exposure too. Films and TV programmes tend to attract publicity, which could also rub off on your other works.

And maybe even kick-start a new career, in screenwriting.

But the challenges are great. There’s far more competition. There are considerably fewer slots for TV programmes and movies compared to the millions of books published each year. There’s also more money at stake in producing them, so more hurdles to jump.

Added to which, paper and screen are very different media with different demands at all levels.

Where to start?

To start you off, I’ve got two places for you to go for help adapting.

This month, I joined Thomas Umstattd Jr to talk about adapting on his Author Media podcast. He’s a good interviewer and we cover a lot of ground in a short time. You can listen online or on your favourite podcast platform.

I’ve also written a new workbook on adaptation, which you can download for free. You can read it on its own or alongside the podcast.

I hope you find them both interesting and useful. Do check them out. Tell me what you think of them – and if you try adapting for yourself tell me how you get on.

Read more

Adaptation Workbook

Not the Oscars

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Screenwriter