As an author, I think it would be thrilling to receive that phone call, the one where your agent or editor rings to say, ‘they’re interested in optioning the rights for movie or TV.’
Selling option rights to your book is a great way to make extra money and perhaps even make a name for yourself.
One of the publishers I write for has their own film/TV divisions. They shop every book through Hollywood and beyond. So far, in their first 18 months, they have sold the option rights to at least five romance books. I think that is so exciting!
It’s also changed how I plot a book. What could I do to this story to make it more TV or movie friendly? What makes a story transferable onto TV or the big screen? I actually plot using Michael Hauge's Six Act Story Structure (from his book Writing Screenplays That Sell).
What’s quite exciting is that the TV/Movie industry isn’t interested in my authors 'voice' or how well the book is written, they only care about the STORY!
Michael Hauge states that there are five reasons why a book spikes the interest of the screenwriting world. You don’t even need to have a best-selling book. Selling book 'options' sometimes happens before the book even hits the shelf, so the movie world has no idea if it’s a best seller. One does not preclude the other. But they must have:
1. An empathetic HERO – a protagonist (male, female or android) with whom we identify from the very beginning of the story.
2. A clear, visible OUTER MOTIVATION that hero is desperate to achieve by the end of the story. Whether it’s to stop a killer, win a competition, rob a bank or win the love of her destiny, this goal must create a finish line that the hero is struggling to cross from the end of the first act (the 25% mark) until the climax of the film. This is NOT some inner feeling or state of being (success, acceptance, self worth), but rather a goal that creates a clear, consistent image for anyone who hears it.
(I thoroughly recommend Michael’s Six Act Story Structure for plotting out a novel – click here to buy his book)
3. Monumental, seemingly insurmountable CONFLICT. If the hero’s goal doesn’t seem impossible, and doesn’t force the hero to put everything on the line, the story won’t elicit sufficient emotion to get people to line up or tune in to see the movie.
4. SIMPLICITY. Movie stories can easily be expressed in a single sentence. Long, convoluted, multi character stories are almost impossible to advertise.
5. FAMILIARITY. Audiences prefer genre films that follow a consistent set of rules and promise a predictable emotional experience. The individual details of the plot and characters should be original, but movies that are hard to categorize are also hard to sell.
None of the above should be missing from your romance story either. It should be easy for us to develop
For me? I’m quite happy to write my books and let someone else write the screenplay. I’d rather move on and write the next best seller – tee hee.
I think we can learn a lot from fabulous film screenwriters like Michael Hauge. They have to grab an audience’s attention and keep them sitting still and spellbound for 2-3 hours. They have to immerse us in the story's world. We also need to do this. That’s what will make a reader buy our next book and our next book and our next book…
I'm excitedly waiting for the call...