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10 Things I Learned From Awesome Adaptations

When a book is turned into a successful movie, it becomes a cultural phenomenon. Fifty Shades of Grey. Game of Thrones. Harry Potter. Twilight. We all know these stories and characters, whether or not we’ve read or watched them.

As B2W often advocates, knowing what an audience wants and why is why the half the battle. Each movie has its own appeal that makes it a pleasure to watch. If we dig a little deeper we can identify those points of attraction. There are specific factors that can turn books into successful movies. Let’s reveal the secrets.

10 Unpredictable Ingredients that Turn Books into Successful Movies

1) Fantasy

Game of Thrones, The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia… all these books belong to the fantasy genre. Books that tell stories about different worlds are always attractive on screen. Each reader visualises the story. Thus, fantasy movies trigger so many discussions. Here is what you can do to add this attraction factor in your writing:

  • Create an unusual world where anything can happen.
  • Reconnect with your inner child. You surely had a fantasy world when you were a kid. What was it?

2) Challenge Social Values

Remember The Clockwork Orange? It’s one of the most popular books that challenge social values. Dystopian themes are consistent in literature, and they are very popular in the movie industry. The Hunger Games is also based on a dystopian theme.

  • You have your own views on the direction the current social values will lead to. Literature gives you endless opportunities to express your vision. Do it! Question those values and bring them to extremes in your story.

3) Suspense

In other words –thrillers. They make great films! Gone Girl, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Cape Fear, The Girl on the Train, The Silence of the Lambs … Should we go on?

  • Don’t give away the main points of your story. Give hints. Build the story towards its culmination. Then, surprise the reader with the unexpected.

4) Romance

Nicholas Sparks learned his lesson as a writer who aims for cinema: a love story can never be too tragic.

  • Make it sad, slightly tragic, but beautiful.
  • Make people cry, even if that means killing one of your main characters. Not all love stories have a happy ending. In fact, the good ones don’t.

5) Challenge Religion

Dare we mention Dan Brown? The Da Vinci Code achieved huge popularity not only because of the intriguing story, but also because it criticized the Christian religion. Umber to Eco did the same thing with The Name of the Rose. This book was slightly more complex to the extent The Da Vinci Code did, but it made a great movie.

      • It doesn’t matter whether you belong to a particular religion, or you believe in your own ways. Ask the questions you have. Expose the doubts.
      • Challenge weak points of different religions! If you infuse religious elements into a thriller, you might find success.


6) Simplify Eastern Philosophy

Eastern discipline is a bit too much for the Western man. If you write a book that simplifies Eastern values and brings them closer to Western man’s understanding, you’ll have a good foundation for a movie. Think of Eat Pray Love, Collateral Beauty and Afterwards – these books have elements from Eastern beliefs.

      • It’s time to enter a meditation course. It makes your mind focused and gives you information on the concepts of mindfulness and being present. If you’re inspired to bring such elements in your writing, do it!

7) Reveal our inner desires

Fifty Shades of Grey is a story that people would condemn if it really happened. It humiliates women, so feminists have a nice foundation for criticism. When E. L. James turned it into a book, however, women from all around the world went crazy over it. Naturally, it had to be turned into an equally popular movie.

      • We all repress wishes we consider inappropriate. Are you up for a challenge? Schedule psychotherapy sessions to discover your own repressed wishes. They will lead to the most intriguing story you’ve ever written.

8) Take something ‘pre-sold’ and twist it

Twilight is a pretty simple romance. Still, it shows us love between a vampire and a teenager sold over 120 million copies. The Game of Thrones is another great example of how a unique, unexpected story is great screen material.

      • Do some brainstorming. Visualise your own story on screen. Let all hidden ideas come to surface. Then, connect them in an unusual, unexpected story.

9) Take a lesson from history

Do you know why many students hate history? They don’t like memorizing dry facts. When people see history turned into a movie, however, it becomes attractive. The Last of the Mohicans, Spartacus, The Light Between Oceans, and The Eagle are only few of the many movies based on historical romance and adventure novels.

      • What’s your favorite era? Do some reading. Explore the fashion, customs, etiquette, events… everything. Take an online course! Then, place a great story in that period and make it as realistic as possible.

10) Inject some Horror

The Shining. The mere title of this book gives you the chills. Jaws by Peter Benchley is another example of a book with horror elements turned into a successful movie. It’s not easy to write a horror novel. If a writer makes it work, they have great chances to see it on screen.

      • Start with horror short stories. This is a genre that’s not easy to master, but you can do it with a lot of practice.
      • You know those clichés in horror movies? Meaningless presentation of evil, which makes people commit terrible acts. Taking wrong turns, knocking on a stranger’s door … Stay away from them! A good horror story should have a fresh approach.
      • Read David Morrell, Stephen King, and Harlan Ellison. You’ll realise what good horror fiction looks like.

Seeing our favorite characters from literature on screen is an unforgettable experience. Every modern writer dreams of creating such a story for their readers. If your ambition is to write a book that will make great movie material, you can use the elements described above.

BIO: Chris Richardson is a journalist, editor, and a blogger. He is also a part of Essay Geeks team. Chris is also fond of traveling, sports, and playing the guitar. Follow him on Facebook and Google+.

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