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Great Adaptations

A four-week live, interactive workshop taught by Margaret South, developer of feature films and founder of All Girl Productions

July 17, 24, 31. Aug 7, 2023

8 to 9:30 p.m. Eastern (5 to 6:30 p.m. Pacific)

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With the high demand for quality movie features and streaming series, more and more scripts are being adapted from novels, memoirs, short stories—even magazine articles. In fact, about two-thirds of new films are adaptations. If you look at the top 20 grossing films worldwide, 70% are based on books. Why? Adaptations often generate more revenue than original screenplays because they have name recognition and a ready following.


Mastering the art of adaptation makes you more employable as a screenwriter. Plus, it enables you to write your book and adapt it to the screen, a double play that boosts your income and control of your project. Think Gillian Flynn, who wrote Gone Girl, the book and the movie. Or Jesse Andrews, who wrote He, Earl, and the Dying Girl, which became a Sundance favorite even though Andrews, the author, had never written a film script before.


If you’re interested in adaptation, this class will walk you through it step by step. Margaret South will draw on her experience developing the screenplay for Beaches by Mary Agnes Donahue, based on the novel by Iris Rainer Dart, and will guide you through the process of turning original source material into a winning screenplay.

Great Adaptations Syllabus

Week 1:

  • Creating a new art form: Is it a movie?

  • Adapting the...



Short story




  • Obtaining the rights.

  • Finding public domain material.

  • Examples of great movies from great books.

  • Examples of great movies from not-so-great books.

  • Is it visual? Does it have action?

Week 2:

  • What it takes to write the screenplay.

  • Exploring the story.

  • Staying true to the original.

  • Changing plot and characters to suit the screen.

Week 3:

  • White space on the page.

  • Action.

  • Stars.

  • Setting.

  • Budget.

  • Show, don’t tell.

  • Diagramming.

  • Page count.


Week 4:

  • Breakdown of the script.

  • Plot points.

  • Screenplay as a blueprint.

  • What makes a script great.

  • Text page v. screenplay page.

  • Internal monologue in prose v. dialogue/action for the screen.

  • What can I cut?

  • Examples of diagramming.


Margaret South founded All Girl Productions with Bette Midler and Bonnie Bruckheimer, and developed feature film projects for Disney, Fox and Tri-Star Studios, HBO, ABC, and NBC, including the beloved Beaches. Together with Ms. Midler, she wrote the screenplay A View from a Broad for Disney Studios.


Ms. South also created the innovative Kids Talk Story curriculum, provided in public schools. She has appeared at the Crossroads Writers' Conference, the Maui/Hawaii Writers’ Conference, the Women in Film Convention, as well as American Pen Women, and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She has worked with writers for over three decades.

$200 for six hours of instruction


July 17, 24, 31. Aug 7, 2023

8 to 9:30 PM Eastern (5 to 6:30 PM Pacific)

Please note: Our classes are designed specifically for live participation, so your attendance is important. If you need to miss a class for any reason, you’ll receive a passcode-protected link to watch the recordings after the course is over.



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