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Sometimes I'm a contrarian and like to think things through backward. What about thinking first of a movie and then writing a novel about it?

Would it make sense to storyboard and script a novel before writing it? Do any authors use this as a work process?

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I've heard of authors drawing up scenes to get into their heads what's happening (though watch out - the reader can't see the drawings, don't end up too light on descriptions). –  MGOwen May 16 at 3:51

6 Answers 6

I once wrote a book as a long screenplay that I then turned into a book. The result? Fairly good dialogue, thin descriptive writing, weak prose overall. Not that this is inevitable but I found that once you've been through a story once as dialogue, scenes and sound cues it makes it a hell of a chore to go through again and turn it into a novel.

As for story boards, the whole point of these is to give an indication of shot composition and visual coherence to a visually oriented project, usually a film (but could be a sketch draft of a comic strip), that allows the creators to better make an integrated visual experience. The pictorial parts of a storyboard would really serve no useful purpose in the creation of a novel that was intended to be words on a page.

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Scrivener contains a feature it calls "Corkboard," which sounds very much like your "Storyboard." It presents scenes as small 3x5 index cards with a synopsis on them, and you can rearrange them to your heart's content. It's a popular feature.

In answer to your question, it sounds like yes, this is something that is done with great frequency.

I use it myself.

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It's important to consider the medium you should use when telling a story because each method has a unique advantage overs its counterparts. For instance, stories that are mostly about a character's interior evolution are best suited to novels because the written word lends itself to investigating a character's innermost thoughts. Films are able to provoke mood through the use of sound and imagery, lending itself to stories that are driven by the senses or by actions rather than a character's thoughts. In fact, films tend to fall flat when they attempt to include characters' thoughts.

Approaching your book like it's a movie may mean you'll miss out on the advantages of writing a book. Instead, you may focus on the elements that are ill-suited to novels, but are great for films.

Storyboarding scenes from a novel may be a good idea if you're writing a story that contains a lot of action or heavily relies on the characters' environments because you can then create a visual reference that includes characters' positions and movements. No more teleporting characters in the middle of scenes. Writing a script before diving into prose may be a good idea if you have difficulty getting through the first draft because it will give a layered approach to writing. Instead of struggling with all elements of prose at once, you tackle each piece one at a time, giving your story multiple passes to make it rich.

In the end, your process is personal, so whether or not others think it's a good idea, you should try it and see how it feels. Writing (and drawing) your story in another format may not be the most efficient way to write a story intended to be a novel, but if doing that gives you better insight into your story then your process isn't wrong.

Good luck!

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I don't know about first writing, and then adapting a script or a storyboard, but I've seen some novelisations of movies - person A creates a successful movie; person B writes a book that 'legally plagiarizes' the movie plot (with proper license to do so).

Example: book Platoon by Dale A. Dye, based on movie Platoon by Oliver Stone.

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Apparently (from reading a lot of screenwriting books and blogs), Hollywood movies usually follow very strict rules. For example, in a typical Hollywood movie the protagonist proactively works towards a goal that he either reaches, because he is virtuous, or does not reach, because he followed a vice. A vast number of books don't follow this structure. As an effect, these books rarely get made into Hollywood movies.

So if you want your book to be made into a movie, you should consider Hollywood movie rules when you write your book. I don't see how it is necessary to write a screenplay for that, but writing it might help you control if your plot works as a movie.

The term for such a book is "movie-ready".

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I have to disagree with you on the LOTR movies. If I hadn't seen the movies, I couldn't have understood the books the first time I read them. Now that I've read the books six or seven times, the movies add to the texture and grandeur of the story. They are not "shallow abbreviations.* –  Lauren Ipsum May 15 at 9:43
    
This is beside the point of my answer, and I deleted that side remark. Maybe now it is more acceptable to you. –  what May 15 at 13:58
    
I didn't downvote you, if that's what you mean. I would never DV for a comment like that. –  Lauren Ipsum May 15 at 17:25
    
Thanks, Lauren, I'm relieved. –  what May 15 at 18:27
    
Well, I did, simply because the answer is off-topic. The question is about basing a book on a script, while you answer is about basing a movie on the book; a completely reversed relation. –  SF. May 15 at 23:21

I write animated cartoons www.makemovies.co.uk www.henryscat.com

I write all my material as storyboards. You can find Storyboard techniques on my makemovies site also on the www.makemovies.co.uk/blog/index.html database

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Welcome to Writers. This is a Q&A site, not a discussion forum, and you will find that answers here need to be more specific. Your answer doesn't really address this question, which is asking about novels. Do you have the knowledge to expand this answer to novels? –  Neil Fein May 26 at 1:24

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