Difficulties in Film Adaptations: Part 2

In the previous entry we discussed the difficulties with the adaptation of the novel’s length and point of view. In this post we will discuss how internal dialogue is adapted to the film.

Challenge 3: Internal Dialogue.

In a novel, the protagonist is capable of explaining his thoughts through the words on the paper.  For example, “Kyle knew that nothing he could do would change the outcome of the situation his wife is in, all he could do was sit in the waiting room with the rest of the family members waiting for their loved ones, he never felt more week and useless”

How would the scene above be filmed? All we would see is Kyle sitting in a room with other people. That is a boring scene that provides no progress through the film and is unnecessary.


There are a few ways to portray this. We could use a time lapse to portray an extended period of time in just a few moments, but we still wouldn’t know what he is thinking. We could film him sitting in the waiting room and provide a voice over of his inner thoughts, however, we would still be focused on a guy just sitting in a waiting room doing nothing but waiting. And, we would have to have the voice over through the entire film and not just that scene.

A way that this scene could be filmed is, having Kyle express his emotions through an action or conversation. We could film Kyle shouting or hitting the wall or some sort of other emotional action. Or more simply, provide him with a character for him to discuss his thoughts with. A random stranger that he meets in the waiting room.

While we may be creating a character who is not vanilla to the novel, we are still capturing the emotional purpose that the scene in the novel was trying to tell us. If you don’t want to create a new character, you can have Kyle continue to another scene later in the novel and explain his inner thoughts to a supporting character in the novel.


In novels, internal dialogue can reveal a lot, especially in character arc and progression. However in films, we need to see something physical in order to show this.

The main difference in films and novels that make adaptations difficult is that, novels are telling us the story, films are showing us.

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