It’s not very often that TV shows or movies come before the book version, but it does happen sometimes! The art of writing is alive in visual media with scripts and screenplays, but turning those scenes, characters, and situations into chapters in a book sounds more difficult than turning a book into a movie, right?
The movie Five Feet Apart, directed by Justin Baldani, came out before the same-titled book by Mikki Daughtry, Rachael Lippincott, and Tobias Iaconis. The cast stars Haley Lu Richardson and Cole Sprouse who portray teenagers who both have cystic fibrosis, meet in the hospital, and fall in love. Because of their diagnoses, they must avoid close physical contact and stay five feet apart at all times.
Take any scene from the film and find it in the book. How similar is it? What are the main differences? Why would a writer make those revisions/additions when interpreting it in the book version?
For example, in the movie version at 0:58–1:09, the scene is about Will and Stella’s first hospital date. (The beginning of this scene can be seen via this YouTube link.) The same scene is written on pages 175–192 in the book version. What are some similarities and differences? Discuss as a class.
Have students think about a movie they recently watched or remember their favorite movie. What scene do they remember most vividly? Maybe it’s when Mufasa dies in The Lion King (okay, that’s too sad), or maybe it’s when Thanos snaps his fingers with all of the Infinity Stones in Avengers: Infinity War. Whatever scene they’ve called to memory, have them start writing down dialogue, sensory details, and character traits. These are key to turning something visual into well-written chapters. Use the outline below.
Order of Events
Characters + Their Traits
What is said throughout the scene?
Was there inner dialogue or narration? If so, what was it?
*Some might not apply.
Have students open a Word document and start writing the scene in book format. (If they need a reminder, pull out any novel you have laying around and check out how it’s formatted.)
When they’ve finished, have students pair up to read the scenes and offer feedback.
Just for fun…have students act out the scenes they just wrote out!
Download the lesson below in a convenient pdf to print or save!
Jennifer Dryden is a high school English and journalism teacher in Des Moines, Iowa. She is a part of the LGBTQ+ community and advocates for queer youth any way she can, including running her school’s Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA). She has a passion for reading and making lame jokes to her students just to see them laugh or roll their eyes. She just concluded her eighth year teaching. Dryden graduated from Iowa State University with a BS in journalism and mass communication (2010) and BA in English Education (2013). She attended New York University’s Summer Publishing Institute (2010), and spent some time in children’s book publishing in New York.