Novelizations: How to Adapt a Screenplay Into a Novel

How Screenwriters Can Get Their Stories Into the World Without Waiting on Hollywood to Produce Their Screenplays
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  • Lectures 21
  • Length 4.5 hours
  • Skill Level All Levels
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
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About This Course

Published 3/2016 English

Course Description

Are you a screenwriter who has wondered what it would be like to write your script as a novel? Are you tired of not seeing your work produced? Releasing your story as a novel is a great way to get it out there and see if you can find an audience. This could help Hollywood take notice. Novelizing your script is also a way to share your story with the world and not wait anymore. Especially in the age when self-publishing is available to all of us. I got tired of waiting for "Hollywood" to decide my stories were worth telling and started getting into the novelizations process after my film, The Ultimate Gift, was produced. I've done six of these now. One novelization on my own, and five with my writing partner, Rene Gutteridge, who has been a published novelist over thirty times. She's also a produced screenwriter. This class will walk you through what has to change from screenwriting to novel writing. Rene Gutteridge joins me for quite a few of the video lectures so you have an expert in screenwriting and an expert in novel writing teaching this class. Each section has PDF downloads. Together these include all segments of our published book Novelizations: How to Adapt Scripts Into Novels. You'll see real live samples from many of our published works so you can get a complete understanding for how a screenplay translates into the very different writing form of a novel. 

PLEASE NOTE: Udemy estimates this class has 4.5 hours of lecture content. This includes both video lectures and written PDF documents. The run time on video content is approx. 100 minutes. 

What are the requirements?

  • For screenwriters, it would help if they have already written a screenplay to make best use of this class

What am I going to get from this course?

  • Learn how to adapt your screenplays into novels
  • Understand the differences between screenplay writing vs. writing novel prose
  • Understand why a screenwriter may want to get into this business to bring awareness to their stories, while they wait for their scripts to be produced
  • Learn what special tools novelists have that screenwriters never use, and how you can take advantage of those when writing the novelization
  • Learn how a novelist / screenwriter partnership may be a good option vs. writing the novelization yourself

Who is the target audience?

  • This course is made for screenwriters who would like to see their stories published in novel form, either out of an interest for writing books or to bring awareness to their stories. It may help a screenplay get produced if an audience can be built.
  • Novelists may enjoy this class to learn the intricacies of what it takes to adapt a screenplay into a novel and consider adding this to the services they offer as novelists.

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.


Section 1: Welcome & Introduction to Instructor

Get to know Cheryl McKay, your instructor for this class, including work she has done that's been published or produced for film.

Section 2: Overview of the Topic of Novelizations

This video will give you a rundown of what we will be covering in this course, what you can expect to learn by the time you reach the end of this class.


Join a conversation between screenwriter Cheryl McKay and Rene Gutteridge (published 30+ novels) as they discuss why writing novelizations is a great idea for both screenwriters and novelists, whether the screenwriter wants to do their own novelization or team up with an established novelist.

6 pages

A companion introduction to the topic of novelizations. What are they and why get involved in writing them?

Section 3: Differences & Challenges (From Script to Novel)

Join Cheryl and Rene as they discuss what the differences are in the writing of screenplays vs. novels, what needs to change the most and what areas get the least amount of changes. What challenges might you face in the translation?

23 pages

Companion information to the video discussion on Changes, Challenges and Differences. This document is best viewed when downloaded.

Section 4: Point of View & Setting

Join Cheryl and Rene as they share about the most difficult part of novel writing for screenwriters: Point of View. Point of View is one of the most fun, but also most challenging differences in writing forms. What does it mean and how does it work? In addition, they will discuss how setting needs a lot more detail in a book.

34 pages

A companion guide to the video, this segment includes direct examples from screenplay to novel translations illustrating Setting and Point of View.

Section 5: Structure & Plot

Cheryl and Rene discuss how the plot of a screenplay affects plotting in novel form.

Also, don't miss the downloadable resources attached to the lecture. They include a bonus article about plotting using color and a 40 beats outline you can use for screenplays.


This video is a bonus video that I created for regular screenwriting classes that talks about my color coding method when outlining stories. I also quickly touch on how this applies when adapting a book for the screen. I wanted to make it available in this class, since you can also use color coding in your process as you outline chapters. I color code novelizations by coloring the script pages by which POV character that scene will be in. More information about that process is described in the PDF Chapter on Structure and Plotting as well as in the included article about Plotting is Better in Color. Even though this video is more about screenwriting, I thought it may also be enlightening as a peek inside a screenwriter's plot process when organizing with color, since it can be used in novel writing as well.

16 pages
  • A companion guide to the video, this segment includes direct examples from screenplay to novel translations illustrating Plot.
Section 6: Interior Monologue & Backstory

Join Cheryl & Rene as they discuss two of the novelist's greatest tools for expansion. Interior Monologue and Backstory. The idea of writing interior monologue can be a lot of fun for screenwriters who are so limited and unable to get inside of a character's mind on a script page. That all changes for the novel. And novelists also get to expand details of backstory much easier.

Don't miss the additional resource attached to this lecture, a bonus example that illustrates interior monologue from Never the Bride.

46 pages
  • A companion guide to the video, this segment includes direct examples from screenplay to novel translations illustrating Interior Monologue and Backstory. This document is best viewed when downloaded.
Section 7: Characters

Join Cheryl as she walks you through a specific example of expanding a character from her script to novel version of Love's a Stage.

11 pages

The PDF companion that includes examples of character work from actual scripts to novels.

Section 8: Dialogue and Voices

Join Cheryl as she walks you through a specific example of how sometimes Dialogue can be directly lifted from a screenplay and used in novel, from her script to novel version of O Little Town of Bethany.

14 pages

Check out this PDF of more examples from script to novel translations that show Dialogue and Voice work.

Section 9: Partnerships / Business of Novelizations

Cheryl and Rene discuss the business side of novelizations: legal information, contracts, and partnerships.

16 pages

Check out this PDF companion to the video with more detailed information regarding partnerships and what to look for when signing contracts to sell your scripts as novels, especially so screenwriters can protect their rights for work they've already done on the script. This document is best viewed when downloaded.

Section 10: Bonus Content

Check out this Skype Call with novelist / screenwriter Bill Myers who has sold over 8 million units of his writing, and has done many novelizations.

Section 11: That's a Wrap

Final video. Also check out the additional resource attached to this lecture about "Purposeful Writing".

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Instructor Biography

Cheryl McKay, Screenwriter / Novelist

Cheryl McKay is originally from Boston, Massachusetts, but spent a lot of her young life in North Carolina. For the past fifteen years she’s lived in Los Angeles working as a screenwriter, novelist, and a writing teacher and mentor. However, she and her husband recently moved from Big Hollywood, CA to Atlanta, Georgia, also known as Little Hollywood.

Cheryl began writing stories and plays at five years old based on pictures on her lunchboxes. She’s been writing since. Her most notable film to date is The Ultimate Gift (starring James Garner, Abigail Breslin). She co-wrote Extraordinary, The David Horton Story, to be produced in 2016. Cheryl’s favorite genres are faith-based films, family dramas and romantic comedies. One of Cheryl’s favorite writing alliances is with Rene Gutteridge. The two partner on novelizations of Cheryl’s screenplays. (Never the Bride for Random House, Greetings from the Flipside for B&H, Love’s a Stage and O Little Town of Bethany for Redbud Press / Serenade Books.) Cheryl is an avid scrapbooker, day-tripper, and a chocolate addict.

She teaches for Regent University's Master's Screenwriting Program, and has also taught at Azusa Pacific University, Act One: Writing for Hollywood, and has been a guest speaker at many screenwriting and film conferences.

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