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Embracing the Big Screen: Turning Your Non-Fiction Book into a Screenplay

content creation Jan 04, 2024

Content creation can often feel like you’re scraping the bottom of the barrel for fresh ideas. Trust me, I’ve been there — staring at the screen, hoping for a spark of inspiration to jump-start the next article or blog post.

It’s precisely for those moments that I’ve found a secret weapon: the National Day Calendar®. It’s a treasure trove of quirky and interesting celebrations that can serve as perfect springboards for content marketing.

As I sifted through my email this morning, I stumbled upon a message that piqued my curiosity. It was a notification from the National Day Calendar®. I couldn’t help but wonder, among the myriad of celebrations, what could today offer that might resonate with you, my fellow nonfiction writers? National Bird Day? Too flighty. National Keto Day? Too niche. National Whipped Cream Day? Delicious, but hardly relevant. And then it struck me — National Screenwriters Day. Now, that’s a day I can work with!

Why, you ask?

Well, who among us hasn’t dreamed of seeing our words come to life on the silver screen? So let’s talk about something that might just tickle your fancy — turning your non-fiction book into a screenplay.

Sounds daunting, doesn’t it?

But hang on, why should the novelists have all the fun?

Non-fiction stories are often the most gripping tales told in cinema. Think ‘Catch Me If You Can’, ‘The Social Network’, ‘Argo’ — all box office hits, all based on true stories.

But how do you know if your book is ripe for a screen adaptation?

Ask yourself this: Does your work tell a story that can visually captivate an audience? Are there moments you’ve written that, when read, feel like they’re already playing out in a theater? If you’re nodding your head, you might be onto something.

The adaptation process is an art form in itself. It’s about distilling the essence of your book — finding the narrative spine and translating it into visual storytelling. Remember, screenplays are about showing, not telling, which can be a big leap from the descriptive prose of non-fiction writing. Can you envision your research translated into scenes and dialogues? Does your book have characters that audiences will root for, or love to hate?

Now, before you start fretting about losing the soul of your work in translation, consider this: collaboration is key. Screenwriting is typically a team sport. It involves screenwriters, yes, but also agents, producers, and directors — all of whom will bring their expertise to the table.

And let’s not forget, at the heart of it all, is your story. You are the subject matter expert, the guardian of the facts. Your involvement is crucial in maintaining the integrity of the truth while bending it just enough to entertain and inform.

This brings us to the legal mumbo jumbo — copyrights and permissions. Just because it’s your book doesn’t mean you can skip this step. It’s crucial to ensure you have the rights to adapt the work into a screenplay. And when it comes to portraying real people and events, the ethical line can be as fine as whipped cream on keto — it’s there, but it’s delicate.

So, where do you stand?

Is your book screaming to be heard, not just read? Are you ready to take the leap and see your work in motion?

If the answer is yes, then perhaps it’s time to raise a glass (or a pen) to National Screenwriters Day and get to writing. Your non-fiction book may just be the next big hit, and today could be the first step on your red-carpet journey.

Remember, every blockbuster started with someone, somewhere, writing down that first line of dialogue.

Why shouldn’t it be you?