I think movies get a bad rap. I’m a little tired of hearing readers moan about how awful the movie adaptation was for so-and-so book.
I get it. Nothing’s as good as the book…but come on. Imagine having to cram a 700-page novel into a ninety-minute movie. Yowza!
Instead of whining about it, let’s talk about how movies can inspire you and improve your writing.
I still struggle with description. Some days it feels like my vocabulary is limited to the words BIG and AWESOME. I mean, there are only so many ways you can describe a ray of sunshine, right?
The cool thing about movies is that a description is suddenly turned into an image. You get to see it. It jumps off the screen. It moves.
The next time you watch a movie, parcel out a particular scene. Watch it two or three times. Then grab your laptop and describe what you saw.
Whoever the director was might give you a new way to look at a desert canyon, a slathering zombie or a moonlit meadow.
Use it. Feel it. Describe it.
Some of you may be cringing, but give me a second. Would a line survive the first cut if it wasn’t at least remotely real in its delivery?
A lot writers struggle with dialogue. It used to be one of my biggest worries.
The best advice I ever got was to just imagine a real conversation. You know a great place to start? Movies.
Watch one. Listen to the flow of words. Digest the back and forth. Then write it.
Just like writers, movie directors want to create a memorable experience.
Think about your favorite movies and the scene that has probably replayed over and over again in your head. The dialogue and visuals stick with you.
Why do you think there are whole websites dedicated to famous movies quotes?
That’s what you want your writing to be like. Snippets that readers can remember and take with them.
To give you some examples, here are a few of my favorites. I can see and hear what’s happening:
- The opening scene from The Godfather when Amerigo Bonasera is talking to Don Corleone.
- The break-through conversation between Robin Williams and Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting.
- The “I am Spartacus” scene in Spartacus.
- The scene in Notting Hill when Julia Roberts tells Hugh Grant that she loves him.
- The wishing well scene in Goonies.
What’s your favorite movie scene?
Your mission: for the next fifteen minutes describe your favorite scene from your favorite movie.