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Screen Adaptation, 2nd Edition by Kenneth Portnoy

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Introduction

Many interesting films have been developed from short stories, novels, and plays. But the process of adapting a work into a screenplay is complex and often fraught with tricky problems. The entire novel may require several readings. The screenplay, however, must tell a story within a two-hour framework or risk losing the audience’s attention and the profitability factor so crucial to a successful film, TV, or cable dramatization.

Dune, for example, is a 500-page novel. But the modern film audience doesn’t want to sit through an epic film. As a result, the writer condensed the story into two hours and ten minutes, losing many of the key elements that made the novel so popular with its readers. The Big Sleep is another film from ...

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