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Basing a stage play on your novel...

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I went to see some children's theatre this weekend, & started pondering how my middle grade novel manuscript could be rewritten as a play. It started seeming possible & fun, if I could get over some logistical problems with it. Anyway, if I'm currently trying to market the novel, is there any reason I shouldn't work on a play version of it at the same time? If the novel were to sell, would there be any rights issues involved with writing a play version of my own story, considering it would only be an adaptation and not the same thing? (But would share characters and probably some lines.) Or would it make more sense to wait until after the novel was published? If it could only be a novel or play, I'd certainly pick novel, but I was having fun envisioning it on the stage!
#1 - January 05, 2009, 04:42 PM


Do it!

I'm considering holding a "Fringe" version (this year) of a MG novel I wrote years ago. From what I gather, the rights of the novel and play are separate, but typically publishers will ask for control of all rights (film, toys, etc.)

The next question is, who is going to perform/direct your play? It's a lot of work.
#2 - January 11, 2009, 04:53 AM


Looks like a play based on one of my (unpublished) novels is definitely happening - got a slot/venue, a director, lighting + sound tech mostly sorted.

Certain types of stories lend themselves well for the stage and certain ones should never be plays/films/musicals.
#3 - April 12, 2009, 04:27 AM

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That's exciting news, sunnyleo!

My novel is about a production of a fictitious play.  The whole play is outlined and I wrote out a lot of it for the rehearsal and performance scenes; I even wrote the music for one of the songs.  If the novel ever sells I'd love to extract the play out of the novel and take it all the way.
#4 - April 12, 2009, 04:37 AM


After going through the process I don't recommend turning your novel into play unless your novel is suitable (contains mostly dialogue, few sets, few costume changes, 4-8 actors). Plays mainly center around witty dialogue (character driven) with few set/costume changes in between. I happened to be taking an Second City improv writing class at the same time so I should have known better than write in twenty set changes under an hour. The amount of effort required to get a play full rehearsed and functioning was more than writing + editing a novel!

The kids loved it, but I received complaints (via 3rd party) over using word like "stupid" I don't know how I got suckered into turning a "novel" into a musical with puppets and choreo, but the songs were hilarious and made everything larger than life. Anyhow, I plan on staging another play, but this time NOT based on any pre-existing story or novel.
#5 - December 21, 2009, 12:10 AM

Well, from what I saw, Mr. Sock is hilarious! Have you sold the novel? Looks very interesting and funny.
#6 - December 21, 2009, 11:03 AM

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Well, from what I saw, Mr. Sock is hilarious! Have you sold the novel? Looks very interesting and funny.

I'm finally editing my long forgotten novels next month (taking a break from working life). My second play/musical - not based on a novel of mine - just finished a successful run.

I feel certain stories fit specific media. Forcing a novel into a play is sometimes a mistake.
#7 - July 14, 2010, 11:46 AM


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