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Adaptation

Hey guys, this is a short post. I just wanted to write a quick update on what I’ve been up to, and also write out my thoughts on my experience and what I’ve been learning.

I am working on an adaptation from novel to script. While this is very simple in design because all the characters and events have been written out, it’s complicated because you have to combine scenes and dialogue to fit a film narrative. The most complex part is condensing dialogue. In a novel setting, dialogue is free to express exposition, and moving the story along because we aren’t really seeing what’s going on around them. It’s assumed they are sitting in a diner and having a normal conversation while life is going on. When you’re watching a film and a scene is stagnant at one location, it becomes long and drawn-out. It’s funny when you compare scenes from book to screen and notice how a lot of dialogue is cut out and yet it still works.

 

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I’m going to reference Harry Potter in this post because it’s the most recent adaptation movie I have watched. The Harry Potter screenwriters (Steve Kloves and Michael Goldenberg) have done, I would say, a fairly well job. While I wished some scenes or pieces of dialogue were kept in the movie, I now understand why it wasn’t included.

You want to put the best parts of the story into the script without boring the audience or elongating the storytelling. 

For example, there are a lot of side-stories that happens in each novel. The one I remember vividly that wasn’t added into the films was Hermione’s need to help the House Elves of Hogwarts and give them better benefits. She called it SPEW (‘Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare’). This was such a fun side-story and it showed more of Ron and Harry’s friendship with Hermione. It was not mentioned or brought up in the film. While it was a lot of fun to read about, it wouldn’t have reflected well on the screen. It was first introduced during the Goblet of Fire. The whole film revolved around the A) the nightmares Harry was having and B) the actual Tri-Wizard tournament. There wasn’t really much else shown in the film, which wasn’t a bad film. I think that the film honed in on Harry’s experience and how he was dealing with the pressure to succeed all the while just being a kid.

I admit, I’m not adapting a fantasy novel like Harry Potter. But I am working on a complex story with dialogue lines that hint towards the climax. There’s so much character work that happens in the beginning of the novel that I’m trying my hardest to condense it all so it doesn’t just seem like it’s a movie about two characters getting to know each other. It has to be more than that, and that’s where I am at the moment. I’m over the fifty page limit and I still haven’t hit my inciting incident. I realize that I’m going to have to do a lot of cutting and editing when I finish my draft, but I wanted to get as many scenes in there as possible, so that I can find the “not crucial to the plot” ones to nix later. It’s a crazy concept for me, but I keep telling myself I need to just go with the flow. I have that bad habit of editing as I write, and I’m using this opportunity to just push through and then edit later.

I’m having a lot of fun with this new experience. I’ve always wanted to work on an adaptation and now that I am, it’s been a huge learning journey. I’ve just started writing and I’m already finding things that I know I need to work on. It’s hard when you see the page count getting higher and you’re nowhere near the second act. I can’t lose steam now, though. I have so much more to get through and then the fun begins: editing.

Thanks for reading,

-Emi


What are your favorite adaptations? Did they do the book justice? Comment below!

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