Writers of shorter forms (like articles and short stories) have long expressed the idea that you can always rework a piece to fit into different criteria so you can get more mileage from it, and they may be on to something. When you look at a creative work and think about how it would better reach a new audience, you’re forced to really take a look at both the piece and the audience more deeply, and in looking more deeply, you will often find new ideas to explore or to combine with other relevant ideas.
It’s an authentic way to enrich and extend your body of work.
Scriptwriters and novelists have enjoyed a similar opportunity to revisit and explore their stories by adapting them to the other format. Scriptwriters (or those entrusted with novelizing their scripts) use the novel format to more thoroughly explore character and setting backstories. They can address story threads that might have ended up on a cutting room floor, giving a little “director’s cut” moment to the novel. (One of my favorite examples of this is the novelization of the movie Labyrinth, which went into Sarah’s mother leaving the picture and the real impact of that on Sarah.)
Novelists, in watching their stories take on a visual life, can let the descriptions fade into the look of the movie, while focusing on bringing out more within the story. Jodi Meadows did a great job of exploring how this worked out for The Hunger Games. She’s right. There really is just so much you don’t need to verbally spell out in a movie, so much you can accomplish in a more relevant way.
Whether it’s by revisiting and reworking a piece or by adapting it to a different medium, there are ways to dig deeper into your work to produce something new and interesting. But don’t forget to work on original pieces, too, because eventually the current story will be wrung out.