Screen Adaptation: Beyond the Basics
Techniques for Adapting Books, Comics and Real-Life Stories into Screenplays
Once you understand the basics of screenwriting, ideas for your next screenplay are everywhere. Whether it comes from a favorite children’s book, a summer novel you discover accidentally, a news story that catches your imagination, or a chapter from your own life — advanced screenwriting strategies should now guide you through your first adaptation. In Screen Adaptation: Beyond the Basics, award-winning screenwriter Eric Williams uses examples from award-winning screenplays to explain new storytelling techniques. His real-world examples illustrate a range of advanced approaches — including new ways to identify and craft tension, how to reimagine structure and character, and how to strengthen emotional depth in your characters and in the audience. Screen Adaptation: Beyond the Basics teaches readers new ways to engage with source material in order to make successful adaptation decisions, regardless of the source material.
The book offers:
- Three detailed examples of award-winning adaptations by the author, including the complete short story and final scripts used in the Voices From the Heartland project;
- Breakout boxes highlighting modern and historical adaptations and providing examples for each concept discussed in the book;
- More than fifty charts providing easy-to-use visual representations of complex concepts;
- New screenwriting techniques developed by the author, including the Triangle of Knowledge, the Storyteller’s Parallax, and the idea of Super Genres as part of a Screenwriters Taxonomy.
Table of Contents
SECTION ONE: BASIC PRACTICES
- Understanding Adaptation
- Fundamentals of Adaptation
- Adapting Jim Day’s "Karelia"
SECTION TWO: INTERMEDIATE PRACTICES
- Recognizing your Genre
- Strengthening your Emotional Center
- Utilizing your Characters’ Motivation and Dialogue
- Adapting Jo Weiss’ "The Pool"
SECTION THREE: ADVANCED PRACTICES
- Thematic Approaches
- Reshaping Structure
- Crafting and Honing Tension
- The Triangle of Knowledge
- Adapting Damion Armentrout’s "So the Young Enter the World"
Eric Williams’ screenplays have received the Best New Work award from the Writers Guild of America, an Emmy Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and the Award for Individual Excellence in Screenwriting from the Ohio Arts Council. He has adapted novels by Luis Urrea (Across the Wire), Bill Littlefield (The Prospect) and Guillermo Fadanelli (The Other Face of Rock Hudson). His latest projects include an adaptation of the anthology Voices From the Heartland into a thirteen-part television series. Eric received his MFA from Columbia University’s School of Film. He currently teaches at Ohio University, where he has received the University Professor Award for Excellence in Teaching.
You can learn more by visiting his website: www.WilliamsOnStory.com
"As a professional screenwriter and professor of film and media arts for the past 20 years, Eric Williams has been involved in the adaptation process many times over. Using his own personal experiences along with examples of well-known adapted works, Mr. Williams has crafted an invaluable guide to the screen adaptation process."
—Rob Levine, Grateful Films