I would like to adapt a novel I wrote into a screenplay, and I was wondering if there are things to take into consideration before taking the dive. The novel doesn't have a lot of dialogue and I think it's going to be a big issue since a screenplay usually has a lot of dialogue. Is there a way to go about it and any guidelines I can follow to make this endeavor successful? I am mostly concerned about the dialogue, and what to do with it.

  • I think your question might be considered too broad. Maybe focus just on one thing, like how to deal with the issue of the dialogue scarcity in the novel? Commented Feb 22, 2019 at 2:06
  • Yeah, it's mostly about the dialogues.
    – Sayaman
    Commented Feb 22, 2019 at 2:20
  • 1
    I took the liberty of massively changing your title to focus the question and hopefully keep it open. If I misrepresented what you wanted, or you don't like it for any reason, please go ahead and re-edit it so it's exactly how you want. Also, check out this link and add your question there. writing.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/1810/…
    – Cyn
    Commented Feb 22, 2019 at 4:41

1 Answer 1


Screenplays have less dialogue than you think!

I too used to think that a screenplay was all about the dialogue. But when I researched the medium, I discovered that dialogue is just a part of the whole. A very important part, but not as many overall minutes as we might imagine.

My favorite screenwriting resource is Bang2Write. They have multiple articles arguing this point. That dialogue shouldn't take too much time and that showing action is even more important.

Sure, movies can run from one extreme to another: From My Dinner with Andre to 2001: A Space Odyssey. Your standard script is a balance of action and talk.

I'm not finding stats for a good range of minutes of dialogue in a movie, but some suggest that a script be no more than 1/3 dialogue. But note that this does not mean 1/3 of the time. While the rule is 1 page of script equals 1 minute of movie, the reality is that a page of dialogue takes much less than a minute and a page of action can take a lot more.

As for what to do with that dialogue. Read it out loud. Grab some friends and read it together, each of you taking a part. What sounds good on a printed page may be awful in a movie. Frankly, I think all writers should read their work out loud as part of the editing process. But what's useful for book writers is essential for scriptwriters.

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