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Turning Novels into Film Successes

Published: 15.08.2012, Updated: 04.03.2017
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Nicholas SparksNICHOLAS SPARKS: "Learning to write is like learning anything else, and can be broken down into three general parts: research, read and write."   

 

Short biography:

Nicholas Charles Sparks was born in Omaha, Nebraska, December 31 1965. 

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He graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1988, majoring in business finance.

In 1994, at the age of 28, he wrote "The Notebook", which was published two years later.

Since then he has written several novels. All were domestic and international best sellers, with almost $80 million in worldwide sales, and were translated into more than 45 languages.

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Bokomslag "Det beste av meg"IN NORWEGIAN: His latest novel was published in Norwegian (entitled "Det beste av meg") in June 2012.   

 

Quizknapp Nicholas Sparks  

From Text to Screen

How do you turn a novel into a film successfully? What changes have to be made to adapt it to the screen.

Think about your favourite book. It took you days to read it, so how do you squeeze it into a two hour long film without destroying the plot, the characters and the atmosphere?

Discuss which of these you think would be most difficult to preserve when adapting a novel to film and then read about Nicholas Sparks below, who has been successful in doing exactly this.

Read The Lucky (and Clever) One  

Creative Writing

1. Explain these terms in pairs and discuss which of them represents the hardest part of the writing process: plot, characters, atmosphere, point of view

 

2. Consider the following statements. Do you agree or not?

  • I could never write several hundred pages about  anything.
  • Writing is easy once you get started, the story develops by itself.
  • I can imagine a story and daydream for hours, but writing it is so much harder.
  • Writing is so addictive, once I have created characters and a main plot I can hardly say goodbye to them. They come alive.
  • When I write it's hard to come up with a good plot.
  • I don't see myself writing a novel.
  • I was born to write great novels.

Now read Sparks writing tips below and discuss whether they change any of your conceptions about writing.

 

Sparks's Writing Tips

"Learning to write is like learning anything else, and can be broken down into three general parts," Sparks says on his website, nicholassparks.com.

 

Research: Sparks suggests the would-be novelist begins by having a look at titles such as "On Writing" by Stephen King, "The Elements of Style" by William Strunk and E.B. White, "Creating Fiction" edited by Julie Checkoway, and "A Dangerous Profession" by Frederick Busch. "[T]here are countless other books on the topic that will help as well, for everything from creating characters to coming up with plots."

 

Reading: "Second, you must read, and read a lot," Sparks recommends. His advice is to consult works in every genre, by a variety of authors, then specialise as you go along. "And read with questions in your mind. In a thriller, for instance, you might ask: how many characters were there? Too many or too few? How long was the novel? How many chapters were there? Was that too few, too many or just right?"

 

Writing: "The final step is to write. You can't be a writer if you don't write, it's just that simple." Sparks tells of how he wrote two complete novels before he made his first attempts at "The Notebook". "Those two novels are unpublished, but they taught me that I not only liked to write, but that I had it in me to finish a novel once I'd started it." According to himself, Sparks writes five or six days a week, "usually a minimum of 2000 words, sometimes more".