What We Can Learn: Movies

Hi guys! Sorry I missed last week. Today, I’ll be starting a series called What We Can Learn. This will focus on what we as writers can get out of other people’s work. Today we’ll be looking at the value of movies.

1. Description and Language. Okay, I hope I’m not the only one who sort of “narrates” movies in my head as they play on the screen. You know, think things like “so-and-so collapsed on the stone floor and so-and-so threw herself down beside him,” etc. If you start thinking like this during movies, you’ll realize that there is SO much you can say, so many rich images, so many “cool” ways you can put what you’re seeing into words. It’s interesting how sometimes, the camera focuses on the smallest details, things that we maybe wouldn’t think to add to our descriptions. Use movies to help you describe images and action, to help hone your language skills. Watch a clip, and then pause it and try to describe what you just saw in words, being as precise and detailed as possible. Movies can also be helpful for describing certain things we likely wouldn’t see in real life, like explosions, wounds, certain types of terrain, etc.

2. Scenes. The next time you watch a movie, pay attention to the different scenes. Where they start, where they end, how they’re laid out in relation to each other. A technique I’ve heard of is to bring the reader into the scene late and take them out early (thank you goteenwriters.com). Pay attention to this in movies.
​Another thing movies can show us is which scenes are necessary to the story and which are not. Watch a movie that has deleted scenes included on the disk. Try to decide why the scene was deleted. Do you think it should have been left in? Did the plot or characters suffer because it was deleted, or were they better off for it? A good example is the deleted scene on the disk of Captain America: The Winter Soldier (I’m sort of a Marvel geek if you couldn’t tell). I won’t give spoilers, but to me, the deleted scene was deleted for a good reason. It was just another, very fleeting burst of action that didn’t need to be there. Nothing overly vital came out of it, and the action moved on without it just fine. See what you can learn from various movies’ deleted scenes.

Well, that’s all for today! What other aspects of movies could help us as writers?

~Katie

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Beautiful Books NaNoWriMo Linkup

Hey guys! Today I’m gonna do something a little different. A blogger I follow just did a blog linkup called Beautiful Books. So I went on the website, and it looks awesome, so I decided to try it! If you want to participate, here’s the link: http://www.notebooksisters.com/2014/10/beautiful-books-1-lets-talk-books-new.html?m=1. So on to the questions!
What came first: characters or plot idea? Are you a plotter or a pantser?
For this one, it was the plot, but it can happen both ways for me. I can be a plotter or a pantser. For this year, I’m kind of a crazy combination. I have half of it outlined plus the end, but I think I’m just going to let it flow from there.
Do you have a title and/or a “back-cover-blurb”?
It’s tentatively titled, Hero or Villain? (Not Your Average Fairytale)
And here is my blurb:
In a futuristic world, Jenna Pond is chosen to essentially be the villain in her generation’s fairytale, sentencing her to one of the only two fates given to the people that play villains: death or imprisonment. Her best friend Clara is chosen to be the heroine. They are taken to be trained for their roles along with the other main character, William, who will be the hero. Jenna struggles with accepting her death sentence. In the middle of the fairytale, Jenna stumbles across information that changes her perspective on her world, her fairytale, and herself.
It needs improvement, but it’ll do. (Yes I am a Whovian, however did you notice?)
What wordcount are you aiming for when your novel is finished?
50,000 to 75,000
Sum up your novel in 3 sentences.
Jenna Pond is chosen to be a villain in a fairy tale, and knows she is going to die. Her best friend, Clara is chosen to play the main character. Jenna finds out information that changes her perspective on everything.
Sum up your characters in one word each.
Jenna: Loyal
Clara: Dreamer
William: Complex
Which character are you most excited to write? Tell us about them!
I think it’s a total tie between the three of them! All of them are so complex. Jenna is too loyal for her own good, can sometimes be clueless, sometimes wise beyond her years, and is always striving to do the right thing.
Clara was a total tomboy, until the Story Makers got a hold of her. She has always had a fascination with all things that look rich, but she has a conscience, and feels bad about certain things she is made to do.
William is probably the most complex of them all. He has a strong love for truth, but yet he has never worked up enough courage to tell his father how he really feels about all of his hero training. From the time he could hold a small dagger, he has been groomed in the ways of a hero, but that isn’t what he wants.
What about your villain? Who is he, what is his goal?
My villain is…wait for it…the president. How original! His goal is kind of a spoiler, so I can’t say…yet.
What is your protagonist’s goal? And what stands in the way?
To expose the lies of her government. Again, original! And several things stand in her way. Her loyalty to the people closest to her, Clara’s lack of belief, and then of course, the villain.
What inciting incident begins your protagonist’s journey?
When she’s selected as the villain.
Where is your novel set?
In our world in the future.
What are three big scenes in your novel that change the game completely?
When Jenna is selected, when she finds out the big secret and I can’t say the last one because of spoilers.
What is the most dynamic relationship your character has? Who else do they come in contact with or become close to during the story?
Probably the one between her and Clara, although they aren’t aloud to see each other for a little while, and then she becomes really close to Will, which is also interesting.
How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?
She isn’t as afraid to stand out and be good, and to tell the truth.
Do you have an ending in mind, or do you plan to see what happens?
I do, although it may get tweaked a little when we get there. We’ll see.
What are your hopes and dreams for your book? What impressions are you hoping this novel will leave on your readers and yourself?
I hope it will get published, but that’s a big hope. Again, we’ll see. I’m hoping it will leave the impression that it’s okay to stand out, and if something doesn’t feel like it’s right, then don’t do it.
So that’s it for today, I hope you liked this, and comment below if you want me to do more posts like it. Also, two days until NaNoWriMo! Who’s excited? On the first day I’m going to a cafe where a bunch of NaNoers are going to meet and write for three hours. Super excited!
What are your plans for the first day of NaNoWriMo?
Elizabeth

A Young Writer’s Guide to Summaries and Shame

Anyone of us who’s pulled a notebook out at school has fielded a barrage of questions. Being an introvert, it’s a little like being trapped in a zoo pen.

And here, we have the writer in her natural habitat. See how she scrawls in a tilted half-cursive? See how she only uses Pentel EnerGel pens?

You naturally get asked the omnipotent question: what’s your book about? For some, it’s easy. It’s about a brother and sister on the run from the law. It’s about a couple first year of marriage. For others, it’s complicated. You can’t think of a way to describe it quickly, so you get into this long, rambling explanation and end up with something that you’re pretty sure sounds like the lamest thing on the planet.

No fear, writers!

Consider this a pep talk: your novel is your baby. Maybe it’s a bit rough around the edges. Maybe a few people think it’s ugly. But it’s your baby, and you’ll always know it’s beautiful. So don’t be ashamed. That’s an order. But because orders don’t always stick, here are some things I do when I’m feeling weird about whatever I’m working on.

I’ve devoted a lot of time to coming up with an elevator pitch. For anyone who doesn’t know what that is, it’s a summary only a sentence or two long that can be given in the time it takes an elevator to go between floors, and it’s actually a lot harder than it sounds. To practice, spend some time writing them for books/TV shows/movies that you like. Here are some examples:

A group of boys with no memories work to find their way out of a maze in which they are imprisoned. (The Maze Runner by James Dashner)

A recently-disbarred lawyer returns to a community college in order to replace his bogus degree while doing the minimum work possible—only to find himself the leader of an eccentric study group. (Community, created by Dan Harmon)

A genetically inferior man assumes the identity of a paraplegic superhuman in order to attain his dream of going into outer space. (GATTACA)

Having an elevator pitch in reserve makes it easy to spit out an answer when you’re ambushed by that kid that sits next to you in math, or wherever else you may be.

Or, you could go the self-righteous, philosophical route. Tell people it’s a social commentary. Talk about theme more than character and plot. This is especially impressive when bragging to adults.

Lastly, if talking about your book makes you feel self-conscious or embarrassed, it may be a sign that something needs to change. Go with your gut. Try reading through your manuscript again and look specifically for that sort of odd, uncomfortable feeling, like an itch in your brain. It might be obvious. You might actually cringe. I know I’ve done that before. But don’t be so quick to ignore your feelings, people. They’re there for a reason.

To quote our good friend Shakespeare, ‘to thine own self be true’. Writers who write for trends or what they believe will sell do not end up with anything close to the caliber of a writer whose work is the very manifesto of their soul. If you love all of your ideas and you love seeing them in action, then the rest will follow.