Pivoting From Novel Writing To A Screenwriting Career
If you want to pivot from novel writing to a screenwriting career, you’re not alone. Of course, you may just want to be a screenwriter full stop (and that’s okay too! Or maybe you want to write a novel of your script??).
LOTS of novelists have tried their hand at a screenwriting career. Some have had more success than others! Here’s just 10 of them. Let’s go …
1) Roald Dahl
Frequently left off lists like these, Roald Dahl boasts an impressive screenwriting career. As well as adapting his own classic book Charlie & The Chocolate Factory in 1971, he ALSO wrote two other iconic movies … 1968’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and 1967 James Bond movie You Only Live Twice. And that’s just for starters! Check out his array of credits on IMDb, HERE.
2) Agatha Christie
Agatha Christie is STILL the bestselling author of all time, but she conquered other media too. She wrote the screenplay for Witness for the Prosecution (1957), which was based on a hit play Christie wrote from a 1925 short story.
Unfortunately, director and co-screenwriter Billy Wilder thought that Christie ‘plotted like a god’ but had ‘cardboard’ characters. He made quite a few changes to Christie’s script. MORE: Billy Wilder’s Top 10 Writing Tips
3) William Faulkner
William Faulker was a critically acclaimed novelist, but his books didn’t do that well during his lifetime. He worked on more than fifty films for MGM studios, but he’s remembered best for The Big Sleep. Adapted from the novel by Raymond Chandler, the movie is an important work in the film noir genre.
4) F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Great Gatsby writer may have only ended up with one credit to his name, but he was involved in MANY more Hollywood projects. Fitzgerald wrote a large number of treatments, rewrites, and screenplay polishes.
Most notably, Fitzgerald worked on the screenplay for Gone With the Wind. Sadly, the pages he turned in were not used or filmed.
5) Gillian Flynn
Credited with changing the face of female characterisation with the ‘Gone Girl Effect’, Gillian Flynn is an adaptation queen. She has adapted both her novels Gone Girl (2014) and Sharp Objects (2018).
She’s also moved into adapting others’ work for the screen. Her most recent adaptation is Lynda La Plante’s Widows (2018), though she also created the 2020 series, Utopia.
6) Michael Crichton
Michael Crichton is best known as a novelist who’s sold 200 million copies. Of these, the Jurassic Park novels are possibly the best known, though he has also written many well-known books.
What many people don’t realise is Crichton was also heavily involved in the film and television industry. He wrote and directed Westworld (1973), the first ever film to use CGI!
Crichton was also the creator of the television series ER (1994-2009), based loosely on his own time studying medicine. He also directed Coma (1978), The First Great Train Robbery (1978), Looker (1981), and Runaway (1984).
7) John Steinbeck
John Steinbeck is considered one of the greatest American novelists of the twentieth century … So working with Alfred Hitchcock would surely produce GOLD?
The Academy thought so, nominating his screenplay for Best Original Screenplay Oscar in 1943 for Lifeboat.
But sadly it was NOT gold, at least as far as Steinbeck was concerned. He did not want to be associated with Lifeboat and even demanded his name taken off! This was because Steinbeck felt Alfred Hitchcock introduced an underlying racist quality into the movie.
8) Ray Bradbury
Moby Dick is a classic novel by Herman Melville. With acclaimed sci-fi author Ray Bradbury penning the script and the incredible John Huston in the director’s chair, it surely would hit paydirt?
Unfortunately not. Like Steinbeck and Hitchcock, Huston and Bradbury clashed from the start. The movie went over budget and worse still, failed to find its audience on release. Moby Dick was an EPIC FLOP!
9) Margaret Atwood
Considered ‘Canada’s most famous author’, Margaret Atwood is probably best known for The Handmaid’s Tale (1985). This book has been adapted several times. Unfortunately, Atwood did not write any of the recent critically acclaimed TV series.
She has penned other TV series episodes. Canadian series For The Record came first in 1981. This was followed by an episode of the 1987 BBC series Screen Two. Most recently she adapted her book The Heart Goes Last, which remains in development.
10) Nick Hornby
The author of High Fidelity, About A Boy and How To Be Good, British writer Nick Hornby has seen his books adapted several times. He’s gone on to be an acclaimed screenwriter in his own right. His adaptations An Education (2009), Wild (2014) and Brooklyn (2015) have received multiple awards nominations and wins. MORE: WILD – Book Versus Film
What’s Next For YOUR Writing?
If you’ve been writing novels and want to adapt them for screen, B2W is your gal. As an author myself AND a script editor, I have the POV and skills to help you adapt your novel into a screenplay.
Alternatively, I can do the reverse too … Lots of Bangers are turning their screenplays into novels these days!
If you want to find out about how B2W can help you, CLICK HERE or any of the pics in this article.