"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
Information & inspiration to hone your craft and increase your cash...Since 2009

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A Tale of Two Movies! How the Cinema Can Help Writers See the "Big Picture" and Enhance Their Work

The movie business is a multi-billion dollar industry.
And many of us as writers and lovers of the arts, have invested more than our fair share contributing to its mega-success through movie ticket purchases and in-home rentals.

But, did you know that movie viewing can also impart important lessons that can enhance your creative process and “pay off” in greater sales?

This revelation came to me recently, when I had the opportunity to check out two flicks that garnered high ratings at the box-office.

One was a comedy with Kevin Hart; the other was a drama with Jennifer Lopez.
To make a long story short, surprisingly, the comedy was a real “snooze fest,” while the drama was so well-crafted that it kept me up way past my bed time.

The difference? The story development and the approach of the writer.

Let’s face it: writers are notorious for dissecting weak plots, ineffective dialogue, unbelievable characters, and general “B.S.” on the big screen. It’s how we're wired.

So, here are a few pointers that will insure that in the future, you exit the theatre with more than some left-over gummy bears and “buyer’s remorse.”

Use the movie’s mistakes and disconnects to improve your own creative process.

Here are some timely tips to help you garner rave reviews for your next writing project.

Keep in mind that even comedy and fictional work should be done smart and realistically.
Writers should avoid insulting their audience’s intelligence in crafting story lines that are so far-fetched and unrealistic, that they come across as ridiculous and laughable in a bad way. Do your research to make sure that minor details don’t cause major credibility issues. For example, in the comedy I watched, Kevin Hart was hired by a nerd guy, engaged to a woman considered out of his league, to pretend to be his best friend and his best man. For his professional services, Hart would be compensated $50,000.00 to pull it off. There were many flaws in the story line. But even on a basic level, it didn’t make sense. Who would hire a “best friend” for $50,000.00, when they could pick one up through Craigslist? It would merely take the promise of unlimited free booze and the potential to meet single chicks at the wedding. Hello?

Recognize that proper pacing is important.
If a story moves along too fast, it feels rushed, and often omits some important background information that allows the audience to form a connection to the characters. If it’s too slow, it becomes boring and laborious.

Open on a positive note.
 Effective writing begins with an awareness of your audience’s needs and expectations.Whether you’re penning a blog post, a play, or an article for an online publication, it’s crucial to consider the motivation of audience members. Are readers on board to be entertained? Enlightened? Empowered? Does your content deliver on your title’s promise?

Consider a “pre-screening” before the big debut.
Extra eyes never hurt.  If possible, have your work reviewed and scrutinized by a professional editor, or someone with the proper skill set to make your work its absolute best.

Provide proper closure.
Your ending should be just as powerful as your introduction. Try an element of surprise here, or a thought provoking quote, or an introspective question. The key is to tie things up in such a way as to encourage interest in your next book, or article, or post. Get the idea?
Even “low budget” projects should offer high entertainment value.

When it comes to writing, movies can be a great teaching aid. Follow these tips to become a quick study.

Have you ever used movies or T.V. to improve your writing process or to generate marketable ideas?
Watched any good movies lately?


  1. I've sometimes looked at something so successful and simple, I wonder why I didn't think of it first :)

  2. Some years ago I did a screenwriting course, so I know a few things about the basics of how movie scripts are set up, and can usually see the 'Big Picture' of a story.

    In a somewhat similar way I sometimes (only once in a while) create 'Formats' as a way to structure ideas for possible future Novels.

  3. These are good points. I've done the same thing as Linda. :) I am always keying in to certain elements in films and thinking how it relates to writing. Lessons and inspiration are everywhere!