From Book to Film

ACFW Authors and writing, Friends of ACFW, Screenwriting, writing 1 Comment

By Lenora Livingston

Typically, a book is written prior to being adapted to a screenplay. However, I chose to do the reverse because of how my story developed. When I experienced the greatest miracle of my life, it triggered a long series of flashbacks about certain events that occurred during the three preceding decades. It was if I was watching a full feature film in fast forward. Within seconds, I knew without a doubt that God had just revealed a powerful story and He wanted me to share it with others as a feature film.

I could see clearly how God had choreographed events in my life, carrying me through my darkest hours, while at the same time answering my prayers in ways that would not have become apparent to me until decades later. He was laying the groundwork for answering my longest running prayer in His way and His time. Because this amazing experience presented itself to me as a film in fast forward, I first wrote Where’s Stephanie? as a screenplay.

Rather than pursing it as a screenplay at that time, I used the screenplay as an outline to write Where’s Stephanie? as a novel. Having written it in the form of a screenplay first really helped guide me through the writing process. However, certain changes need to be made. The settings and scene descriptions were already established and only needed to be expanded. The tenses had to be changed throughout, because my book needed to be written in the past tense and screenplays are written in the present tense. Also, in the screen play each person speaks for himself, but in the novel, the writing had to be changed to the third person, describing the character’s thoughts and motives. However, in the screenplay the viewer has to interpret the characters motives based on their interpretations and actions of the actors, plus the viewers own point of view.

Formatting a screenplay can be extremely complicated compared to a novel. Whether writing a novel or a screenplay, I highly recommend purchasing and downloading a program that covers both screenplays and novels and automatically formats your work as you type it into your computer. Also, be sure to choose a program that does not charge a fee when you call their suggested “Help” number when you are learning how to use it.

There are many reference books covering screenplay formatting. The two that were the most helpful to me were The Complete Guide to Standard Script Formats, Part 1: The Screenplay by Cole/Haag and The Screenwriter’s Bible, A complete Guide to Writing, formatting and Selling Your Script, 6th Edition, Expanded & Updated By David Trottier.

When my novel was completed, a film maker who read it contacted me through my agent. He said he saw it as either a full feature film or a three-part mini-series. My agent and I were both very pleased to tell him that I had already written a screenplay. Where’s Stephanie? –the film is now 60% finished being filmed.

It is my prayer that this BLOG will benefit those who envision their novel as a film. God is good.

Besides books, Lenora Livingston has written short stories; school programs, including a Character Education Word of the Month program; numerous newspapers articles and community newsletters. She earned her BA in history and English and her MAT in Geography from the University of South Carolina, plus continued post masters studies in psychology and counseling at The Citadel.  Lenora Livingston’s book’s webpage is The Where’s Stephanie? – film webpage is . Lenora Livingston’s Facebook page


Comments 1

  1. I enjoyed reading this post very much, Lenora. At the time that I wrote my third novel, The Methuselah Project, I had no idea how to create a screenplay. However, I signed up for a class and learned the basics. The first time I entered my script into Movieguide’s Kairos Prize, I heard nothing back. So, the next year, I continued studying and rewrote the script using what I had learned. Only God knows what will happen when the winners are announced, but I’m thrilled that my entry is among the 15 Semi-Finalists. Win or not, I feel God’s confirmation that I’m finally learning the knack of correct script formatting. Blessings to you!

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