Screenwriting for Dummies and Amazon Studios Adaptation

A couple of weeks ago, Amazon Studios came to my attention. I’m guessing a lot of authors long to see their work on the big screen, but maybe it’s just me.

Screenwriting for Dummies Book Cover

Amazon Studios caught my fancy because it gives me a chance to dip my toe into the screenwriting world.  I decided to do some research into how to write a screenplay adaptation and went directly to my favorite how-to book – the Dummies series. writing different types of stories required different style, focus and format.

The Style difference

The key tip I took away from reading that section of the book was – visual. A novelist will describe the setting and surroundings in detail using the five senses. On the screen, you have sight and hearing. You need to translate taste, smell and touch into visual clues. If your hero is in a dark alley and you need them to smell the odor of rotting vegetables, you need to show the vegetables.

The Focus difference

Action, action, action. The novelist can show their characters develop through feelings and inner dialogue. On the screen, they have to act and react. Action is defined in the Screenwriting for Dummies as something that leads to something else. Our hero entering the stinky alley isn’t action. Our hero entering the stinky alley and tripping over a severed arm which leads them to search for the killer is action.

The Format difference

Format is something that can trip up any writer. If you submit to a traditional publisher or agent you need to follow their format rules. If you are trying to get your script in front of someone who will make it into a movie, you have to format it correctly.  I used to hate the idea of ‘messing’ around with formatting. My outlook changed when I started reviewing manuscripts as an ebook contest judge and when I used to be a part owner of Paperbox Books. Formatting correctly allows the reader to access your work. If you put your script in front of someone who has seen 20 scripts that day, don’t make it hard for them to read it.

The bottom line

Screenwriting forDummies pretty much covers it from idea to opening night. There is a lot of writing craft information along with the specific information for screenwriters. I highly recommend it for anyone thinking of getting into the screenwriting business. My bottom line? I think I will look at adapting one of my books as a screenplay, but after I’ve published more books in each of the series.