In a Facebook group in which I participate, someone asked whether anyone had turned a screenplay into a novel.
I answered that my romantic suspense spy thriller CIA FALL GUY was a screenplay first, and that my military thriller LT. COMMANDER MOLLIE SANDERS was adapted from two screenplays that have the same protagonist.
Then I started to think about the differences between a screenplay and a novel.
Point of view:
One of the biggest areas is point of view. I will admit it took me years to clearly understand point of view in a novel. I like close third person, which means that the person whose point of view that segment is being told in can only know his or her own thoughts and not what the other people are thinking.
(A novel can have several POV characters as long as it is clearly signaled to the reader by chapter changes or section breaks that the POV has changed. In my women’s friendship novel MRS. LIEUTENANT I actually labeled each chapter with the name of which of the four POV characters that chapter’s viewpoint character was.)
But in a screenplay there is no POV character in terms of knowing the internal thoughts of any of the characters. (Yes, people’s actions can demonstrate how they feel but this is not the same as actually reading in a novel what a character’s thoughts are.)
Thus one of the important considerations when adapting a screenplay into a novel is whose POV is being used. And one of the ways to signal this is the use of character names.
For example, in LT. COMMANDER MOLLIE SANDERS, LCDR Sanders is the protagonist, but she is not always the POV character. Thus, when she is the POV character, I use her first name, Mollie, in descriptions and dialogue attribution.
But when the POV is that of LCDR Kevin Witlow, I use her call sign, Gearhead, because that is how LCDR Witlow thinks of her.
Present or past tense for description:
Another change is that in screenplays the description is in present tense. And unless you are writing a novel in present tense (which I did with MRS. LIEUTENANT), you have to be careful to switch to past tense description.
Extending the brand:
I used an unpublished short story about LCRD Sanders to bridge the two screenplay stories for the novel. In hindsight I would not have used the short story and instead would have published it separately on Kindle as a short story.
I am working on the short story CIA SPY GUY as a followup to CIA FALL GUY, and I am planning on using a one-hour TV drama pilot I wrote with different characters as the basis for this short story featuring the main characters from CIA FALL GUY.
Think about it.
Most writers of screenplays and novels truly like their characters and the stories created for those characters. If the characters in a screenplay are not seeing the light of day on film, why not bring them out into the world of novels? Thanks to ebooks and POD, this is now a reality.
Click here to see all my books on Amazon. And notice the new cover for FOUR COMEDY SCREENPLAYS, none of which has yet been turned into a novel.
P.S. If you are a member of Goodreads, click on the widget in the top right-hand corner to sign up to win one of the copies of MRS. LIEUTENANT.
© 2013 Miller Mosaic LLC
Phyllis Zimbler Miller is the author of fiction and nonfiction books/ebooks, including TOP TIPS FOR HOW TO PUBLISH AND MARKET YOUR BOOK IN THE AGE OF AMAZON and the romantic suspense spy story CIA FALL GUY.
She also has an M.B.A. from The Wharton School and is the co-founder of the online marketing company www.MillerMosaicLLC.com