Watching Movies as a Writer

I don’t watch a lot of movies but because it’s Halloween and I’m finally done with running and hiking for hours on end, I watched a few movies this week:

The Martian (excellent, very science-positive and I loved it)

The Last Witch Hunter (also loved it!)

The Perfect Host (an…experience to be sure)

The Babadook (and Australian horror film)

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (rewatch, still fun)

and a couple short horror films on youtube.

I mention this because I love to watch movies for their story structure. From the extremely little I’ve read about screenwriting and actually becoming a successful screenwriter in Hollywood, almost every movie that makes it to theaters follows the same story structure almost down to the minute. You see something similar in novel writing, but in a looser way, I think.

Now, I go to the movies to relax and escape the world (and Last Witchhunter was just beautiful for that) and to experience a well-told, well-shown story. Still, I can’t help but notice how these other stories are built. The ebb and flow between rising tension and crisis, problem and solution, is more exciting because I see the picture coming together (which is the intended effect for the whole audience, I just tend to notice it on a meta level when I’m paying attention).

And then I go home and freak out a little.

All those stories felt built, like the writers put piece after piece together until a gorgeous, complicated, compelling, and engaging puzzle was completed and you realize it’s not the final picture that’s revealed but the act of completing the puzzle that is the best part. And they make it seem so easy!

And, yes, I am well aware that this amazing puzzle journey is the from thousands of hours of work by hundreds of creative people and I’m one person with a Motivator and a writing group building a world and making real people out of neurons firing in my brain.

Movies—good ones—are inspiring little seeds of self-doubt. Bad movies and poorly written novels give me hope that, on the spectrum of writing, someone out there will think my story is good enough to sell.

As we ramp up for NaNo WriMo, I am not sure yet if I will reduce posting or just put up shorter blog posts in November but I promise there will be more pictures in the coming updates!

I’m curious to see if other writers deconstruct movies and visual storytelling like we often do novels. Leave a comment below!

Author: V. Kane

I write YA fantasy, blog about it, and then take my dog out for therapy. My current manuscript is ANATHEMA, a story of two sisters caught up in a war between the gods. Find me on Twitter at @ValkyrieWriting or Instagram at books_and_dogs

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