✏️🛠️ ‘Don’t Let The Truth Ruin Your Movie’: Advice for Adapting True-ish Stories to the Screen
Writing one’s life story, in a memoir or autobiographical novel, is hard enough. Then reshaping that book for film or TV is its own art. We asked three writers who’ve done it to share their best tips.
Writers who’ve had their work adapted for the screen know that making the leap can be a challenge — especially when the story is close to home. How does that book, essay or article get translated for a visual medium in which there are certain beats to hit in a short time period and no room for every single character or beloved scene?
I’ve had my memoir’s film and television rights optioned multiple times over the years by various studios and production companies, but wasn’t given the chance to write the screenplay myself. In most cases, execs have been happy to pay me to go away — telling me the author rarely has the experience or emotional distance to also be the screenwriter. Since a cinematic version of my memoir has yet to be made, I am now writing a TV pilot of my own, and I wanted to know how others did it. So I asked a few professionals how they went about it, for myself and anyone else struggling with the idea of adaptation. Here’s what they said.