Post: Novelization is an interesting creative writing challenge


Thinking back, you can no doubt easily compile a list of blockbuster movies that were based on novels. To Kill a Mockingbird, Lord of the Rings and The Wizard of Oz are a few examples. Literary fans often shirk the movie adaptation of their favorite novels, saying Hollywood more-often-than-not “ruins” the stories. Avid readers can become especially frustrated when they feel that significant parts of a book are left out of a movie, or worse, an ending is changed. Film producers have their work cut out to bring a book to life on film. However, authors can take on a creative writing challenge as well by giving novelization a try. 

Novelization is the opposite of creating a movie that is based on a novel. It’s writing a book that is based on a movie. Many writers enjoy this type of challenge because it enables them to add to a story. On film, there’s only so much time to get everything you need onto the screen to tell a story. On paper, you can simply keep adding pages or chapters, or even additional books (in a series) until your story is complete. Writing a book based on a movie also allows time for further character development. 

These authors took on novelization in their creative writing endeavors

The following list includes some of the most famous novels that were, in fact, novelized, meaning they were based on movies: 

  • Rain Man, by Leonore Fleischer
  • Home Alone, by Todd Strasser
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark, by Campbell Black
  • E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, by William Kotzwinkle
  • The Goonies, by James Kahn

As is common with novelizations, many people read such books and mistakenly believe the famous movies associated with them were based on the novels, instead of the other way around. Have you read any of the books on this list? If so, did you realize at the time that they were based on movies?

Things to keep in mind regarding novelization

Many filmmakers will approach fiction authors to offer contracts to novelize their movies. Movies are copyrighted material. You must be careful not to infringe on another party’s intellectual property. In other words, you must obtain validly authorized permission to adapt a movie into a book. However, you do not necessarily need anyone’s permission to create a fictional story based on the folklore behind a movie rather than the movie itself. Before investing time in such a task, ensure you are permitted to do so by consulting with someone who is well-versed in copyright laws and the publishing industry.

If you’re unsure whether you would be violating copyright laws to publish a novel you have in mind that was inspired by a movie, it’s best to speak with someone who is well-versed in copyright laws and the publishing industry before writing a manuscript that you plan to submit to a publisher.