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5 Top Tips For Converting Your Screenplay Into A Novel

Screenplays –> Novels

So you’ve written a screenplay, then bust a gut to get it financed and produced … But two years later you’re still no further on. Don’t give up just yet!

You’ve created characters and a story so why not use this as your template and convert your script to a novel? Here are five tips to help and inspire you converting yours. Ready? Let’s go … 

1) Take Back Control 

A film is a story told in pictures and a screenplay is really a set of short-hand instructions rather than a complete work of art. Film is collaborative and the director and her or his team will all have their own ideas and interpretations of your script. You’re not in charge.

But write a novel and you have complete authorial control. You are director, cinematographer, wardrobe and makeup, as well playing all of your characters. That’s freedom and a lot of fun! MORE: How Brian Wrote His Screenplay Mechcraft As A Novel

2) Play With Words 

Language is plastic and fun. However, screenwriting relies on the premise “less is more”. So in your screenplay you mustn’t make language stand out. The script needs to be “transparent” so we can see the film beyond. Words are not that important.

A novel, on the other hand, is a story told in words. Language is your medium. So feel free to play with words when converting your screenplay into a novel. Create rhythms, metaphors, weave sentences together, use delicious rare nouns and adjectives. Enjoy language!

 3) Expand The Detail

A character enters the script for the first time.  In a screenplay this character’s handle may read something like “A stocky, angry fifty year old man…”  The remaining aspects of this character will get filled in by the film director with help from wardrobe, makeup and the actor himself.

A novel is a more slowly evolving form and you have time to explore all kinds of interesting aspects of your characters. There’s no rush when you’re converting your screenplay into a novel. What about this man’s clothes, his greasy shoes, the small tear on one collar, the strange tattoo on his neck, his shaking hand? 

This opportunity to expand the detail applies not only to character but also to external and interior locations, weather, light and so on. So take your time, go in closer and explore. MORE: Why Novelists Should Write Outlines Just Like Screenwriters

 4) Let All Your Characters Come Alive

In a screenplay it’s very easy to rely on stereotypes for your characters and also to pay most of your attention to your protagonist and (hopefully) your antagonist. In a novel you have time and space to let even minor characters breathe and come alive.

You’re creating a complex, intricate world in a novel. In that world, every character can become real and unique with their own life story … From the checkout boy to a woman walking a dog! This process is fascinating.

5) Find Your Structure

Screenwriting is a very disciplined form of writing. Freed from its shackles there is a danger you may get lost in your novel’s alluring landscape of words. Screenplay structure is very well delineated and there are many models on offer, the three act structure being the most common.

So why not use this 1-2-3 structure for your novel, for example? Introduce your characters, let the plot evolve and grow more complex, and finally take the reader to a powerful climax and resolution. Structure is vital in all narrative forms. Make sure you stay on track amidst all those words! MORE: Why Being An Expert At Structure Helps Your Writing 

Good Luck Converting YOUR Screenplay Into A Novel!

BIO: Alan Denman is a British novelist, screenwriter and filmmaker. He lives on a boat on the River Thames near London. His novel The Captain Who Never Went To Sea, based upon a screenplay of the same name, will be published soon.

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