10 Things Hollywood Looks For in Your Book (Part 1 of 2)

We’re delighted to have an excellent two-part blog by  John Robert Marlow, a novelist, screenwriter, editor and script consultant.

When deciding which books to option or adapt, Hollywood studios and the production companies that team with them look for very specific things. To maximize your project’s appeal, incorporate these elements into your book or adapted screenplay…

A CINEMATIC CONCEPT that can be communicated in ten seconds, via something called a logline. Sound impossible? Try this: A fugitive doctor wrongly convicted of killing his wife struggles to prove his innocence while pursued by a relentless U.S. Marshal. (The Fugitive.)

A RELATABLE HERO that a large segment of the moviegoing public can relate to, root for, sympathize or empathize with.

STRONG VISUAL POTENTIAL. Simply put, film is less flexible than print. Film is a visual medium, and interesting things must pass before the camera, because all of the details are on the screen. Two people standing still and talking doesn’t cut it.

A THREE-ACT STRUCTURE. The vast majority of commercially successful films are “classically structured” into three acts. Even those with additional acts (like Star Wars) have only three major acts; the others fall within that framework.

A TWO-HOUR LIMIT, of sorts. If a story cannot be told in two hours or less (one hundred twenty script pages), it may be too costly to shoot. Industry veterans with proven track records warrant exceptions; newcomers do not. This is more a challenge for the screenwriter who adapts your book–but if it just can’t be done, that’s a problem.

To be continued…

This article is a condensation of  “What Hollywood Wants: 10 Things Studios Like to See in Adapted (and Original) Scripts.” John also writes the Self Editing Blog http://selfeditingblog.com.

The content of this article is copyright © 2010 by John Robert Marlow.

The Eighth San Francisco Writers Conference / A Celebration of Craft, Commerce & Community / February 18th-20th, 2011 / Mark Hopkins InterContinental Hotel on Nob Hill / Keynoters: Dorothy Allison & David Morrell / Pitch your book to agents and editors from both coasts / More than 50 breakout sessions / 100 presenters / www.sfwriters.org  / blog: https://sfwriters.info/blog / free MP3s at sfwriters.info / Also available: a day of in-depth classes on Monday, Febraury 21st

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