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Books with films in mind

7 January 2013

'I never write the books with films in mind. I always write them as books. I don't think one should write a book with a mind on a film version. I was a screenwriter before I was a novelist and I learn to write screenplays on the job. Working in television, you pay particular attention to story. You have to structure your stories properly. You have to work out what to include and what to leave out. You work out what the tension is in the story, where the climax comes and make sure it's never boring. And I did that for a long time before I sat down to write a novel. I'm full of admiration for those writers whose work is entirely unfilmic, whose work is about the quality of the prose.

For me, books and films and television have always existed alongside each other. And they've always fed into each other. I think it's not a conscious thing. If I feel anything about writing novels, it's that I wish I were better at writing pure descriptive prose. A lot of the novelists I love write beautiful, lyrical, wonderful prose and that's not something I ever set out to do. I think the two things do feed into each other, especially if they're comedic or romantic, it's hard to separate. As a novelist, Woody Allen is a great influence. As a screenwriter, Dickens and other 19th century writers are a big influence.'

David Nicholls, author of One Day and the screenplay of the new Great Expectations film on the Booktrust website