I think the thing is to not try to do a little bit of every scene in a novel, because it’s going to end up a mess. Choose what you want to do in a novel and do it proud. If necessary, cut characters. Don’t keep every character and just take a sniff of each one. When we were going to do Great Expectations, we thought that we were completely incapable of tackling such a master as Dickens, so we looked around and asked, “Who really is an expert at Dickens?”
There was a lady novelist called Clemence Dane in London who was sort of a Dickens expert and had also written several plays. She did a script, and it was absolutely awful because she did just what I’ve said. Every character and scene were there—just nibbled at. We knew it was no good. And I said, “Let’s have a go.” I got the book and quite blatantly wrote down the scenes that I thought would look wonderful on screen. What I did was try to join up those scenes and write links between them. Of course, you have to have a narrative, and that chiefly is what I did.