Today I’m going to discuss books and why I think when adapted they are better as tv series rather than movies.
I began my writing career as a screenwriter. I went to school for screenwriting , and I even made a couple of short films and participated in many contest and other people short films but never movies. *(Side note : I also wrote a 5-act play about Juliet Gordon Lowe that was once widely recognized for the 100th anniversary.) But hopefully one day I can make my debut writing and directing a full length tv series. and or movie because that is my ultimate dream.
But becoming a screenwriter wasn’t my first option . My first passion was always novel writing. And so I wrote many manuscripts but never published . Okay and so I have a lot to say about turning books into the tv series/ movie.
While in college I swore to myself I would always write movies but then all that changed when I was introduced to tv writing. Tv writing is a whole other beast. To me it was liberating because you don’t have the constraint of two hours to tell a story. You are much more free to expand characters and story lines, plots , motivations , and twist and turns. Much like the freedom you have when writing a novel. Also the tv series itself can last forever it seems no matter how many books in series there are. However due to budget constraints when writing a tv series all that you write in the novel might not fit in the tv series . Storylines of characters might change . New characters might be introduced . And other characters that you might have written in your book might be written out of the tv-series all together as well as in a 2-hour movie. And this is why like I said before the 2- hour movie format doesn’t really work well for adaptations from novels.
In my opinion I find it easier to adapt novels into a tv series . It is widely seen that adapted novels of fantasy and scifi work better as a tv series because of the deep explanations of worlds and history , and character backstory . But I also believe it can work well with any book . Well known books such as :
- Anne of green gables
- The Little House Series
- The Outlander Series
- The Sherlock Holmes Series
- Game of Thrones
- Storm Front (Dresden Files)
To name a few, were all turned into tv series. They are also adapting Lord of the rings into a tv series I might add .
Tv series structure is usually episodic and divided into small 30 minute to 1 hour episodes much like the chapters of a book . Each storyline is divided into a story A story B story and sometimes a story D if you get lucky and want to tell more in that particular episode . In the novel of course that is called multiple POV . Sometimes in a novel there is no multiple POV of course. and so when turned into a tv-series those characters that are usually seen through the eyes of the main character in the book are expanded as main characters in the tv series .
I believe in my own opinion that when writing the novel it is and can be easily set up to be adapted into the tv series format and vice versa. Because I’m use to writing spec tv scripts I was able use the tv screenplay structure in my multiple POV novel . Story A is always the main characters story . Story B love interest story or best friends story , Story C villain or obstacle storyline & a story D a supporting character event or theme within story that can be wrapped up quickly . Also each story connects back to the main story A. So each POV character has their own arc each story arc matters.
The novel series I am writing now was once a 20 min SCREENPLAY. And so the reason why I turned that 20 minute screenplay with only 6 characters into a novel is because I believed that the story was and is so much bigger and that it would be better as a novel series with multiple POV because I wanted to show the reader more than what any one character knows and still maintain a closeness to the characters . That is achieved also in a the tv -series.
And thus you always wonder why the 2 hour-movie sometimes of an adaptation from a book leaves you confused , and left with a cliff hanger? That is because there was no way to add portions from the novel within that 2 hour time constraint .Once again this is one of the main reasons why novel adaptations work better as a tv -series .
Although also in my opinion I find it when writing a tv series and adapting a novel . You must take your time and choose carefully how and what you want to take from the novel . I Would say to read the novel first before attempting to adapt it into a screenplay. Most screenwriters don’t read the actual novel before writing the tv adaptation. But they might just glimpse through the pages. That is why mostly seen nowadays some novelist can be an advisor to the screenwriter on set or sometimes chosen to write the screenplay themselves for the television adaptation. In that case a writer who writes both the novel and the screenplay might not change a thing from the book but might expand on some characters.
This action is also similar to playwrights where they can be both director and writers and the vision of the writer mostly stays the same.
So there you have it. This is mostly my opinion from my experiences as a writer so far on why books are better adapted a s a tv series than a 2-hour movie.
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What is your opinion about books being turned into tv series rather than a movie? Do you think novels work better as a tv show?
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