Big-screen dreams of China's Web novelists

FROM WEBPAGE TO SCREEN: Online novels (print versions pictured) are being adapted into TV shows and movies, with some of them becoming hits.


    Jul 11, 2014

    Big-screen dreams of China's Web novelists


    IN RECENT years, publishers, directors and TV producers have taken a keen interest in popular online novels, thanks to their originality and solid fan base.

    Genre is an important factor. According to a survey by Chinese online literature platform Cloudary, of the 100 online novels whose copyrights were sold by Cloudary for adaptation in 2012, modern city novels, historical romances and war stories were the most popular.

    Online author Liu Chenfeng's best-known novel, A Clear Midsummer Night, is a love story. It saw more than 30 million Web hits and won the top prize in the annual competition for Chinese romance novels in 2012.

    A TV adaptation of the book was a huge hit when broadcast last year.

    The success of the TV adaptation has brought Liu greater popularity and more confidence in her writing.

    "It's as if a feast prepared by me has been appreciated by numerous diners, which is great encouragement," Liu says.

    Literature websites have played an important role in this trend. Major websites, such as and, which are owned by Cloudary, have established special branches to help film and TV producers who are looking for good stories, and to deal with copyright licensing.

    Liu - who has entrusted the literature website with dealing with her copyright licensing to TV producers - thinks it makes things easier for writers and allows them to focus on their work.

    However, many other writers have sought to work closely with film and TV producers and play an active role in the adaptation of their works. The authors' unique understanding of the works is valued by producers and directors.

    Popular online writer Bao Jingjing worked with director Teng Huatao as the screenwriter for one of her online novels. The movie Love Is Not Blind, adapted from her story, became an instant hit in 2012.

    Bao graduated from Beijing Film Academy with a degree in literature. Her background helped her win the director's trust.

    The experience has led her onto a new career path. She won the award for best adapted screenplay at the 49th Golden Horse Awards in Taiwan in 2012.

    Since then, Bao has adapted another of her writings into a film and a TV series, both directed by Teng.

    "I am lucky. Now, I have a job that I really enjoy," she says.

    While she writes for an online audience, Bao adds that she will take into account the possibility of her works being adapted into films or TV shows, and avoid sentences that might be difficult for actors.