How to Adapt a Book Into a (Good) TV Show


Todd VanDerWerff: What’s your process for turning a book or something else into a TV show or film?

Graham Yost: With Justified, it was both easy and hard. It was easy in the pilot in that Elmore [Leonard] had given us “Fire in the Hole,” a novella. That story is a perfect fit for an hour-long episode of television. I used a lot of what he had written and then kept the [hero’s] father alive, turned him into a criminal, did this and that. Made some choices, added some characters. Ultimately, we kept [the character of] Boyd alive, which is a very different ending.

Okay, what do you do for the second episode? Now it’s adapting an approach, adapting a type of storytelling. It’s adapting the kind of characters that Elmore would have. That became something we had to find out as we went along.