Back in May, when I wrote a guest post, I didn't know it would turn into a regular gig. I've looked at a wide range of remakes, reboots, and adaptations, trying to find what makes them work and what makes them fail. Over and over, the key is a level of caring for the original. With it, a remake stands a great chance of suceeding, even if only critically. Without it, the adaptation becomes a mess.
Adaptations are almost a no-brainer for studios. Most of the creative work is already done. The setting, the characters, even the plot, someone else has already done the heavy lifting. The next step is making sure that all the elements can survive the transition into the new medium or through the update. This is where the production staff can make or break the adaptation. A crew that is working to keep the core of the original, even when making a core change to the approach in the remake, is going a long way to keep the fans of the original satisfied.*
While adapting books, plays, radio shows, and comics to movies has existed since the dawn of cinema, we're starting to see a new trend. TV, once relegated to the lowest common denominator, is now opening up as a new ground for adaptations. The advent of season-long and series-long plot arcs in shows like Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the remake of Battlestar Galactica, and even soap operas has allowed the adaptation of novels, even series of novels like A Game of Thrones and Dexter, to be attempted on specialty subscription channels. With the successes of A Game of Thrones, Dexter, and True Blood, we should be seeing more novels adapted for TV as a series in the future.
One thing that I've learned from working on Lost in Translation is that I should be keeping the possibility of my works being adapted open. In the past, I've done some original writing, moving away from fan fiction** as I found my voice. Of the various original works I've done, most don't lend themselves easily to being adapted. Sticking with the NaNoWriMo project I've done since 2006, two would have no trouble becoming a TV series or movie, one has licensing issues, one would need to go to a specialty channel due to gratuitous nudity, one would be almost unadaptable due to language, and one needs to be scrapped and rewritten.*** While I learned a lot about how to write and how I write, future projects will definitely include the idea of being adapted into the planning.
There has always been adapations, remakes, and reboots in the history of entertainment. The challenge has been making sure that the new product resembles the original sufficiently to keep the existing fans while being intriguing enough to pull in new fans. It's a tough job, but it can be done and done well.
Next time, a look towards the future.
* There will always be unpleasable fans. It's the nature of the beast.
** I realized that when I was just using the setting and creating new characters, it was time to just start from scratch.
*** Let's just say that romance novels are harder to write than they look.