Gransnet forums


Screenwriting versus novel writing

(13 Posts)
CariGransnet (GNHQ) Thu 21-Feb-13 09:53:08

This week's guest blog post is from William Nicholson - the man who brought Les Mis to the big screen. Seems it's very different to writing a novel...essentially loads of people and getting paid v solitude and not getting paid.

Would you prefer to see your work on screen or on a book shelf? And do you reckon he's in with a chance for the Oscar this weekend? As ever, do add your thoughts on the blog right here.

margrete Thu 21-Feb-13 12:32:46

The novel on which this is based is a huge length - 5 volumes originally. What's in the stage production is a tiny fraction of Hugo's original writing.

What puzzles me is - who ever decided that the Thenardiers were 'comic characters'? They're absolute monsters, especially him. In the original book we meet him for the first time scavenging and robbing the dead on the battlefield of Waterloo.

Having read the original book - parts of it in French translation in fourth form at grammar school - it always seems different to me from some comments that I've heard made by people who obviously don't know the original background and story. Hugo, of course, took part in the 1848 revolution so he'd have been familiar with barricades from there.

wallers5 Thu 21-Feb-13 17:51:16

I think the adaptation is excellent. Not everyone read the original book. It works for modern times and for me.

granmapat Thu 21-Feb-13 21:11:58

I think the film works really well (despite reservations on some of the casting) and it adds to the stage production. As far as the Thenardiers being comic characters, surely it was felt that a lighter touch was needed in order to leaven the desperation and sadness in the rest of the story. To have a musical of total gloom would not have made for such a success.

nonnanna Fri 22-Feb-13 06:11:12

granmapat - I agree with you. I'd also like to add that having seen Les Mis on the stage my other half just didn't understand the storyline. The film put it all into perspective for him. Adaptation should do exactly what it says - adapt a story, theme, piece of music whatever and put another slant on it so that it becomes more accessible and enjoyable for different people. The film of Les Mis certainly did that and now OH has a better understanding of French history, something he knew little about. To William Nicholson I say ' great job, bring on the Oscar.'

j08 Fri 22-Feb-13 14:35:49

We haven't had a lot to say about this have we. #there'sasurprise

What do we know about film screenplay writing? hmm

j08 Fri 22-Feb-13 14:36:32

A book.

j08 Fri 22-Feb-13 14:37:08

Might be.

Tegan Fri 22-Feb-13 15:32:13

When I buy a dvd I usually watch the extra's which often includes the screenwriter expaining how they set about condensing the story. The guy that did The Time Travellers Wife explained how he knew he needed to 'lose' 4/5ths of the story and characters and only keep what was relevant [thought he did an excellent job]. Perhaps doing a screenplay for a book which then becomes a musical is slightly easier because you don't have to create the image of the characters? Was terribly disappointed with The film of Captain Corelli's Mandolin, mainly because they made Pelagia do things in the film that were out of character, and that made me angry, and they missed out the bit where Mandras swam out to sea with the dolphins [a screenwriters dream I would have thought]. If you write a rubbish book all that happens is nobody buys it and you don't make any money, whereas a screenwriter is constantly looking over their shoulder and finding lots of potentially angry people sad.

BarbaraAbbs Fri 22-Feb-13 15:44:30

I didn't see the stage show but I would have been interested in the differences between that and the film from William Nicholson's point of view. Was the show as long? Were there those big scenes , ie in the harbour and on the barricades - and did William have much input into the structure?

j08 Mon 25-Feb-13 15:46:33

It got "Best hair and makeup".


matson Mon 25-Feb-13 15:52:09

i haven,t read the book, seen the play / film ! am i missing out on screen writing x

j08 Mon 25-Feb-13 16:30:49

here is the performance the cast gave at the Oscars ceremony It'll give you an idea. smile