One week from today, on Sept. 24, we’ll be celebrating the 116th birthday of one of America’s greatest authors: F. Scott Fitzgerald. His book, The Great Gatsby, has inspired generations and remained relevant in our pop culture, even 87 years after it was originally published. Throughout those 87 years, it has been adapted into film on four different occasions. And in 2013, we’ll see Jay Gatsby on screen again thanks to director Baz Luhrmann.
That got us thinking. What makes a book like The Great Gatsby so successful on film?
On the Author Learning Center, author, literary manager and Hollywood producer Dr. Ken Atchity led a webinar (one of many that you can attend for free, by the way) that described 10 Rules for Planning Your Novel to Be a Film. Here are just three of his tips:
1. Keep your characters castable.
“What makes financers and distributors decide to make a film to begin with is the knowledge that they’ll be able to sell that film and people will go see it,” says Atchity.
2. Set the story in contemporary times.
Due to cost of production, Atchity suggests setting your story in the year 2000 or later. “You open up so many more opportunities for production by keeping it contemporary,” he says. If your story is like The Great Gatsby in that it can’t be set in contemporary times, plan to pitch it to Hollywood as a strong “period” piece.
3. Use the three-act structure.
Your story should have an irresistible opening, a middle with unexpected twists and a conclusive, satisfying ending. Atchity says the middle of the story is the toughest act for writers. So, he suggests you divide it into three acts as well. That way you can use excitement, complications and a climax to spice up the middle of your book.
And when you’re ready for Hollywood to see your completed story, our Book-to-Screen services can help.
- A professional reader can develop your book’s Hollywood Coverage, an industry standard for pitching to the movie and TV industry.
- A screenwriter can give your book a Hollywood Treatment, which outlines how your book could be adapted into a screenplay.
- Or, hire a screenwriter to write a complete Hollywood Screenplay that you can submit to Hollywood.
For all of our Book-to-Screen services, your work will be considered for film adaptation by our first-look partner Thruline Entertainment, a Hollywood management and production company whose clients include Academy Award nominated screenwriters, Emmy Award winners and A-list Hollywood actors.
In addition to those services, we’re gearing up for PitchFest 2012. On Oct. 19, you’ll be able to pitch your book to Hollywood executives in a face-to-face setting. The deadline to register is Sept. 30, so if you’re interested in attending, sign up soon.
Now that we’ve gone through some of the ways you can turn your book into a movie, we want to hear more about your book.
Would you be interested in seeing your story on film? Why would your book make a good movie?