From Book to Script to Movie

Sorry, I've been gone for so long, I was having major can't decide what to write about. If I'd been smart I would have just made a list and went through the list daily, but nope I logged in each day and went back and forth ending up writing nothing as I ran out of time. So, here I am, still wanting to write about multiple things, but just gonna jump in with both feet on one topic.

Analyzing stories. I took a really great class from UCLA a while ago on adapting screenplays. As part of the class you had to read the original book and then watch the movie. The point being to see how screenwriter's change or keep things the same because what works in a book will not necessarily work in a movie. In other classes, I had already been reading scripts and watching movies, and then analyzing them for the class. I think I amused and confused my instructors as I really refused to do the oscar winners and contenders that the other students were doing. Nope, not me, I picked movies like American Outlaws, The Mummy, The Bourne Identity, X-Men, The Relic, etc. Though in the adaptation class I did have to do the Oscar nominees, LOL, since we then discussed what we liked and didn't like of the adaptation.

So, if you like a good story, I'm gonna clue you in on a past time of mine, when I have the time, LOL, on analyzing stories. Pick a movie that has been adapted from a book. You can watch the movie first or last. I often watched the movie, went and got the book, read the book, compared what was different, and then the super interesting part, read the script. Some scripts will be the first script (try to get these if you can) and some will be the shooting scripts. What's changed? One that is really interesting with the amount that changed from the book to the script and then the script to the final film was The Relic. Truthfully, it's a very fascinating analysis.

On script to film (as in no book first). The Mummy was very interesting since it was written by the director (of course, based on the older movie). Number one, he got away with a lot more character thought, description, backstory, than any other screenwriter would, LOL, but secondly the difference in the characters from the script to the screen is fascinating. X-Men is another great one to analyze. The original script is good, but not nearly as good as the movie. In looking over the changes, I have to seriously wonder if they brought in a script doctor to rework the script to follow the Hero's Journey. It made the movie better. Made the reluctant hero that much more of a hero than in the original story. As I've never read the comic books I can't comment on that end of the adaptation.

I could go on and on, but I'll stop here and just suggest that if you want to see how a story is put together, how an overall theme works, etc. studying book to script to screen can help you get a better understanding of story structure. Though, caveat being, what works on screen doesn't always work on print. A great place to find free scripts to read is Drew's Script-O-Rama.


  1. I did not know anything like this was available. Thank you. I do enjoy some books as movies, but my general experience has been that they are two different stories, altogether.

    Yaya's Changing World

  2. Yes, many movies are nothing like the books and some are too much like the books. The latest Peter Pan is an example of a movie that followed the book very closely, but tweaked it just enough in the right places to make it better on screen. Because they are such different mediums, generally speaking, the screenwriter has to change certain things. But also sometimes it goes the other way, they just want a certain element from the book and want to create their own story around it. The Moon-Spinners is an interesting read (book) and watch (movie) as so much was changed, but the characters are very much who Mary Stewart created and in reading the book you can see why the screenwriters felt they had to change certain sections. Of course, they also didn't keep nearly as close to books in that history of movie making as they do (percentage wise) now. Okay, I'll stop now, I could go on and on with example after example. LOL Drew's Script-O-Rama is such a great resource. If you haven't read scripts before it can take a little while to get used to the style of how a script is written.


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