Adapting… It’s what we do

Hey everyone…. Flobo here!

As writers (novelists, screenwriters, and poets all inclusive) one of the perks of the job is that you get to create new worlds for your works. You know, if you had an idea for a space opera that takes place long ago in a galaxy far away, you can put pen to page and make it a reality.  This is called your intellectual property, and it’s value is ever increasing judging by the amount of laws out there that are designed to protect such a thing.

Sometimes, especially if you are a commissioned  writer (e.g. hired gun) for a project, you may have the opportunity to adapt your work from existing material. Well, what does that mean exactly? Well, if you are creating a story with existing characters, settings, plots, or characterizations, you are in fact writing an adaptation. Writing is no doubt hard as it is, but sometimes writing using already existing elements can be a whole new challenge. Though for indie authors this doesn’t happen all that often, staff writers on television shows deal with this sort of thing all the time. Well, what’s an aspiring writer to do?


There was a short film I worked on last year called “Lex Talionis”. The film was only eleven minutes long, and it was pegged as a “psychological thriller”. Check out the trailer:

I was between the writing of my second book and my third, so I wanted to keep my skills sharp. Taking the elements from the film, I adapted the source material into a little short story of the same name.

Lex Talionis Adaptation (PDF)

The experience was challenging because there was a balancing act of wanting to flesh out the world while not deviating from the source material all that much. Luckily, since the film was a short, there was a lot of room to add detail to the aspects of the film that were glossed over. I likened it to adding shading to a line drawing, but that’s only because we creative types always tend to be more visual than the analytical folk. I do feel adaptation is a skill we self-pub and indie authors overlook for one of two reasons. 1) After your hard work, you can’t sell it and it in essence doesn’t “belong” to you and 2) Fan Fiction, another form of adaptation, tends to get looked down upon from students of the writing craft.  Getting over that, for me at least, the real thrill is maintaining the main character’s integrity while putting in the textual flourishes that in effect “puts your stamp” on the piece.

Maybe next time if you’re looking for the perfect writing drill, draft an episode of your favorite TV show, or write a poem that captures the spirit of your favorite fictional character.



Disclaimer: I don’t own rights to characters and story of “Lex Talionis” and I am solely using this demonstrative/educational purposes.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: