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Weird question books/movie length (1 Viewer)

KeganThompson

Staff member
Board Moderator
How long big would a story need to be if it was a length of a standard movie? A lot of books are made into movies, but so much stuff gets cut out. So my question is: roughly, how long would a book need to be to fit into the standard movie length of about 90 minutes? Novella size of 30,000 words? 🤷‍♀️

EDIT: I'm not asking because I want my story or any story to perfectly fit into a movie. It was an example.
this is all I want to know~
What size novel (roughly) is equivalent to a 90-minute movie. It's a very broad question but I was wondering what people thought. I was thinking 30,000 to 50,000 words depending.
(if its even possible to compare the two)
 
Last edited:

piperofyork

Friends of WF
I'm guessing that there isn't a direct fit between book word count and the movies based upon them. The Wizard of Oz had a 40K word count and they made a 2 hour movie out of it; Sense and Sensibility was 120K and they made a 2 hour movie out of it; Dune was 190K and they made a 2.5 hour movie out of it. The screenplay that acted as the medium between those books and the corresponding movies is where the action is condensed and molded into movie shape. If you're thinking of writing for movies, maybe start with screenplays instead of books? (Although the downside there is that you can sell or publish a book as a stand-alone item, whereas a screenplay needs a producer, director, actors and crew to bring it to life.)
 

KeganThompson

Staff member
Board Moderator
I'm guessing that there isn't a direct fit between book word count and the movies based upon them. The Wizard of Oz had a 40K word count and they made a 2 hour movie out of it; Sense and Sensibility was 120K and they made a 2 hour movie out of it; Dune was 190K and they made a 2.5 hour movie out of it. The screenplay that acted as the medium between those books and the corresponding movies is where the action is condensed and molded into movie shape. If you're thinking of writing for movies, maybe start with screenplays instead of books? (Although the downside there is that you can sell or publish a book as a stand-alone item, whereas a screenplay needs a producer, director, actors and crew to bring it to life.)
My question was how long would a book/ story need to be to "equal" a standard movie size because standard books are too "long" to fit into a standard movie. I think it would vary a bit depending on exposition and scene structure but would it be about approximately 30,000 words/ novella size. (To maybe 50,000 words) Does that make sense?
I'm not interested in writing screen plays. I like movies but I don't want to be a part of making one. Lol
It's kind of a weird question and I'm not sure how to phrase it.
 

Non Serviam

WF Veterans
A decently literate person reads at 300-ish words per minute. Very literate people, such as many people who visit this forum, read at much higher rates, but 300 words/minute is a good average for those who read for pleasure. So if you want to write a book that takes a film-length (say, two hours) to read, you should write 36,000 words.
 

piperofyork

Friends of WF
My question was how long would a book/ story need to be to "equal" a standard movie size because standard books are too "long" to fit into a standard movie. I think it would vary a bit depending on exposition and scene structure but would it be about approximately 30,000 words/ novella size. (To maybe 50,000 words) Does that make sense?
I'm not interested in writing screen plays. I like movies but I don't want to be a part of making one. Lol
It's kind of a weird question and I'm not sure how to phrase it.
Ah, my apologies. I misunderstood. If you were asking about writing a book with a roughly 2-hour ingestion time, then I think @Non Serviam is on the money.
 

KeganThompson

Staff member
Board Moderator
Ah, my apologies. I misunderstood. If you were asking about writing a book with a roughly 2-hour ingestion time, then I think @Non Serviam is on the money.
Not necessarily how long it would take to read it vs watching a movie but if a story was turned into a movie how long roughly would it need to be so nothing would need to be cut out. Not expecting anything I write to ever be turned into that but just wondering since I consume a lot of movies and my pacing might be better suited for that size when starting on larger works. 80,000 words is over whelming atm. I do think about 30,000-36,000 would be the length it would be for it to fit in a movie format
 

piperofyork

Friends of WF
Not necessarily how long it would take to read it vs watching a movie but if a story was turned into a movie how long roughly would it need to be so nothing would need to be cut out. Not expecting anything I write to ever be turned into that but just wondering since I consume a lot of movies and my pacing might be better suited for that size when starting on larger works. 80,000 words is over whelming atm. I do think about 30,000-36,000 would be the length it would be for it to fit in a movie format
Hmm, honestly I have no idea on that score, although I suspect that the best way to ensure that nothing (or as little as possible) from your story is cut out would be to write a screenplay...it's my understanding that just about any novel would have to be converted into a screenplay before becoming a movie, anyway. But I understand of course if that isn't your interest!
 

KeganThompson

Staff member
Board Moderator
I don't think my question is being quite understood, which I get, it's kind of a Weird question and hard to explain.
A book is a format for story telling but so are movies. A lot of books get translated into movies but when that happens a lot of events get cut out. So a standard book in terms of story telling is longer than a standard movie. What size roughly would be equivalent to a 90 minute movie. I am thinking novella size close to 30,000 words no more than 50,000. Does that make sense?
 

Non Serviam

WF Veterans
Not necessarily how long it would take to read it vs watching a movie but if a story was turned into a movie how long roughly would it need to be so nothing would need to be cut out.

Ah, now that's a slightly different question from the one I answered. I'm sorry for missing your point there.

The best answer is to write your story as a script rather than a novella, but if you insist on writing a novella that could be adapted to the screen without cutting, then you need to interleave very terse dialogue with very visual action scenes. This is more important than word count.
 

Lawless

Senior Member
I don't think my question is being quite understood, [---]. A lot of books get translated into movies but when that happens a lot of events get cut out. [---]

That's exactly how understood it right from the beginning, and several people have tried to explain to you (correctly) that it's impossible to give you a formula to transform the length of the book into the length of the movie, and you are refusing to accept that answer and keep suggesting they have misunderstood your question.

I'll try to make it as simple as possible:
You can spend a couple of pages describing what the objects on the table looked like. In the movie, the table can be shown so that the viewer can take it all in in a few seconds. On the other hand, five words "they spent hours playing football" can be stretched to, well, hours on the screen.
 

KeganThompson

Staff member
Board Moderator
That's exactly how understood it right from the beginning, and several people have tried to explain to you (correctly) that it's impossible to give you a formula to transform the length of the book into the length of the movie, and you are refusing to accept that answer and keep suggesting they have misunderstood your question.
I understand it's an odd question and I got good responses. That's why I said roughly because I know it really depends on the story and how its described vs movie. There is a lot of variables but I know in general a 80 to 100k book a lot of events gets cut out. And this is not even referencing internal dialogue. That is just basic events. That is was I was thinking if u would even attempt to compare the two. A novella length would be closest to a standard movie size. I was trying to confirm that theory if that makes sense
I'll try to make it as simple as possible:
You can spend a couple of pages describing what the objects on the table looked like. In the movie, the table can be shown so that the viewer can take it all in in a few seconds. On the other hand, five words "they spent hours playing football" can be stretched to, well, hours on the screen.
 

Cephus

Senior Member
Don't write books to be movies. Just don't. Write books to be books. Even if someone did option your book, they're going to do whatever they want to it, whatever they have to add or whatever they want to cut, to the point that it might be barely recognizable. Just write your book to appeal to a reading audience. The chances anyone will ever make a movie out of it are so slim as to not be worth considering. If it happens, great. You still have to do something until then.
 

Matchu

Senior Member
It don't work like that.. does it?

Somebody reads a book and interprets the book toward a screenplay which is either accepted or rejected by the financiers, the creatives, the audience.

Apols...Captain Corelli's Mandolin springs to mind, the vast, sweeping, breath-taking book of its time. A turgid movie/a turkey which I'd probably still watch often if I get the chance again.

A generation before - the Frederick Forsyth, Eagle Has Landed, [middlebrow, ew]. Quite happily watch any 10 minutes of that one.

Notwithstanding original Ye War Among Stars (1677) + King Henry VIII Potter Wives' Tale 2 Phoenix (redux)
 

KeganThompson

Staff member
Board Moderator
Don't write books to be movies. Just don't. Write books to be books. Even if someone did option your book, they're going to do whatever they want to it, whatever they have to add or whatever they want to cut, to the point that it might be barely recognizable. Just write your book to appeal to a reading audience. The chances anyone will ever make a movie out of it are so slim as to not be worth considering. If it happens, great. You still have to do something until then.
I wasn't asking the question because I was thinking about writing a book to be turned into a movie. I don't even think I will have my work published, if I did it wouldn't be anytime soon. (i'd have to actually write a completed novel first) I was curious because a lot of stuff in books get cut out of movies. which is a shame. I watch more movies than read books, I have gotten back into reading since writing again but my brain is really centered around movies and that structure vs a typical book. I was thinking of terms of length. I find an 80,000 novel as a new writer overwhelming esp if I want to get the pacing right. So I was trying to see if 30,000 words would be the best comparison to a standard movie length of 90 minutes. they're multiple factors and transforming one format of storytelling into another is hard. It was more of a comparison to what I was trying to say vs me wanting to turn a novel into a movie.
 

KeganThompson

Staff member
Board Moderator
Hmm, honestly I have no idea on that score, although I suspect that the best way to ensure that nothing (or as little as possible) from your story is cut out would be to write a screenplay...it's my understanding that just about any novel would have to be converted into a screenplay before becoming a movie, anyway. But I understand of course if that isn't your interest!
I'm not asking because I want my story to be a movie. I'd have to have a completed story first. LOL I was trying to use examples but basically, my question is what size novel (roughly) is equivalent to a 90-minute movie. It's a very broad question but I was wondering what people thought. I was thinking 30,000 to 50,000 words depending.
I don't think I explained my question very well lol
 

Terry D

Retired Supervisor
How long big would a story need to be if it was a length of a standard movie? A lot of books are made into movies, but so much stuff gets cut out. So my question is: roughly, how long would a book need to be to fit into the standard movie length of about 90 minutes? Novella size of 30,000 words? 🤷‍♀️

EDIT: I'm not asking because I want my story or any story to perfectly fit into a movie. It was an example.
this is all I want to know~
What size novel (roughly) is equivalent to a 90-minute movie. It's a very broad question but I was wondering what people thought. I was thinking 30,000 to 50,000 words depending.
(if its even possible to compare the two)
It is impossible to say. It depends on the adaptation. There have been short stories made into full-length movies. Stephen King's Dark Tower series totaled about 1.4 million words and was made into a 95 minute movie (poorly). One of the most faithful adaptations from book to movie that I ever read/viewed was Fail Safe. The movie is almost a scene for scene copy of the book, even much of the dialogue is the same. The book has 288 pages (about 90K words) and the movie is 112 minutes long. The vast majority of movies diverge wildly from the books which inspire them, so you can't really compare the content in terms of how many words or pages equals how many minutes.
 
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