Film producers love using books as the inspiration for their latest blockbuster, but having your book made into a movie is task heavy and requires a fair bit of perseverance, grit and luck. While we’ve all heard the success stories of authors such as J.K. Rowling, Suzanne Collins, and Stephen King, to get your book adapted into a movie, you need far more than just a bestselling novel. Today, I’ll share the writing techniques and the follow-up steps you need to use to have the best chance of your book being picked up by movie producers and developers.
Getting Started: Writing Techniques
If you are in the first stages of writing your book, this is an excellent time to consider specific writing techniques if you aspire to have a book-to-movie adaptation made. The below methods are essential for successful movie adaptations and will increase your chance of a movie script being created based on your writing.
- Develop a Driving and Hard-Hitting Plot
Your book’s plot and subject matter are some of the most crucial factors for your chance of a movie adaptation. The plot should have an obvious beginning, middle, and ending, as with any good story. You’ll also want to ensure the story keeps moving forward throughout the book, as cinema adaptations can’t afford any down-time or dull moments. There’s nothing worse than movie adaptations that go on for over three hours and simply drag out a series of events instead of cutting to the point of the story! While subplots may seem important for your book’s success, these are less critical for movies, and adding extra subplots doesn’t necessarily mean it improves your writing. A strong narrative arc is fundamental for your success, and the order of the events in your story must be regarded as if you were watching them in a movie.
2. Create Relatable Characters
Your characters need to be able to be translated from a book to movie with ease while also offering dynamic and exciting personalities. Throughout the story, character growth should be seen and you should avoid one-dimensional characters who will be incredibly tiresome to watch during a two-hour movie. Imagine your characters coming to life on the big screen, and try to craft believable characters, some of which your audience can sympathize with.
3. Craft a story that can be told within a couple of hours
This is one of the most vital considerations when movie developers are optioning scripts. If your book cannot be condensed into the usual movie length of about two hours, it’s unlikely to succeed on the big screen. While some popular books, such as Harry Potter, do get split into multiple movies later on, this is extremely unlikely for the first movie in a series. While many authors dream of hitting the big screen, it’s far better to write with your reader in mind, first. After all, you’ll want to create a stand-alone piece of literature that will still be enjoyed by readers for years to come.
4. Choose a Compelling Setting
The setting and place in which your book’s action takes place is also critical to a movie adaptation’s success. Imagine Outlander being set in a completely different location and time period – it just wouldn’t work! The setting shouldn’t just be an afterthought of your writing, as it will become an essential part of the movie, with breathtaking shots and sweeping panoramas that will transport moviegoers to far-off lands. Part of the joy of cinema is leaving your home and visiting new places, so keep that in mind when writing a book–especially if you aspire to have your book become a movie. Whether you are creating an action-adventure story or a romance novel, this will be key in securing your book-to-movie adaptation.
Steps to take after your book has been published
If you’ve made it this far – congratulations! But the real work is just beginning! Be sure to tackle these next 3 steps to help get your book noticed and increase your chance of being picked up for a movie adaptation.
- Create a Script
If you are lucky enough to be approached by a movie studio, you likely won’t write the final script for your adaptation, yourself. However, just because a production house or movie studio hasn’t knocked on your door, doesn’t mean your dream is dead. To garner interest in your potential book-to-movie adaptation, consider writing the script yourself. This will give you a finished example of the potential story that could be conveyed during a film. It will also be a great tool to show prospective movie studios, providing movie producers with a spark of inspiration they may not see from merely reading the book. If you don’t feel comfortable doing the writing yourself, hire someone who works as a screenwriter and who has experience with this type of work.
2. Build an Online Following
One of the best ways to get noticed, is to be online…a lot. You’ll want to build your social following on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, to start. These social media platforms allow your fans to share your work, which may eventually help get your script (or book) into the hands of the right people! Social media is a powerful platform, helping to make (or break) many authors. Used wisely, social media can help get you noticed far quicker — and much more affordably — than other marketing methods. Consider also getting your book covered by popular online book clubs, who will give you further word of mouth advertisement. Finally, ensure you connect with your fans properly, instead of just using social media as a marketing tool. Genuine interactions with your fans are far more likely to encourage them to spread the word about your work, and you never know who anyone online is linked or related to nowadays!
3. Solicit Online Book Reviews
Online book review platforms are a fantastic tool for spreading the word about your work. And while some claim massive book reviews are not critical to your success, I’m in the can’t-hurt-to-have-too-many-good-reviews camp. You only need a few top paper writers to start suggesting your romance novel would make a fantastic movie for the seed to be planted. Word will soon spread about your book, and the more online bestseller lists you can find your way onto, the more chance your writing has of being seen by the world.
By following these tips above, you can increase your chance of having your book adapted for the big screen. For many authors, this can change the trajectory of their career almost overnight and offers them the chance to see their characters become household names who are loved by readers and viewers around the world.
Are you an author who has successfully turned your book into a movie? What tips do you have? Leave them in the comments below — I’d love to hear from you.