The Difference Between Novelizations and Adaptions

Movies from books seem to be all the rage lately. More and more movies based on books are popping up in theaters and drawing from existing fans of the book the movie is based on. These movies are known as adaptions (aka books that are movies).

But another type of movies from books (or rather books from movies) is known as a novelization, which is essentially the reverse of a movie adaption. A book is written after the movie is created and therefore the movie is “novelized” for a new audience: book lovers!

Often times what happens is a movie studio will hire a screenwriter to write a script for a movie. Then after the screenplay is complete, or sometimes even while the script is still being written, the producer will hire an author to create a novelization of the screenplay. The purpose of this is essentially for marketing and expanding the audience for that story to a wider range of potential fans.

The problem with novelizations is that sometimes it’s tough to convert a story that was originally a screenplay into a book. With a movie we don’t get as much inner-dialogue (if any) and descriptions of places and people aren’t as vivid. If the author of the book didn’t originally visualize the story, it can be tough to adapt the screenplay to book form while keeping the story complete, not choppy, and most importantly enjoyable.

Which Is Better?
So we have movies from books and we have novelizations of movies. But which is better? Well, that’s a tough debate. In most cases though the original way the story was written turns out better than the adaptation.

Therefore if the book was written first and then a movie based on the book was created, in most cases the book will be better. In contrast if the screenplay was written first, then the book was adapted to the screenplay, the movie might turn out better. There are of course exceptions, but in general that’s how it usually goes.

In addition to adaptions and novelizations, there are also tie-in editions of books that are movies. These editions normally include the same content as the original book, but the cover art is changed to match the movie adaption and “tie-in” the book to its corresponding movie.

Whether books that are movies were originally written by an author or a screenwriter, essentially the process is all about adapting a story to a new format in the hopes of reaching new people who will enjoy the original story in whatever way they prefer.

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