What can Novelist Learn from the Movies?

I recently read the book Save the Cat by Blake Snyder , a must have for screenwriters and all story tellers. As I’ve been reading, and going over notes from my last conference, I realize there is much we can learn from TV and movies.

  1. Dialogue: This is the most obvious of course, but TV/Movies are littered with good, and bad, dialogue. It is a great way to hear what works and what doesn’t. Aprilynne Pike recently said that she thinks her writing is better when watching Gilmore Girls. I agree it is a witty show that does a great job with dialogue. And as writers, I think it’s important to read our dialogue out loud to help edit our work.
  1. Plotting: Because of the short length of movies (in comparison to sitting down and reading an 80,000 word novel), movies are a great way to look at the plot of a story and see what works. Most movies follow a formula, and those that don’t struggle. Blake Snyder goes over plotting in his book for screenwriting, and it mirrors a lot of what I’ve read from other writing books as well. Usually you can watch the major plot points happen like clockwork.
  1. Characters: Watching Pulp Fiction and seeing how Quentin Tarantino makes two drug addicted hit-men likeable is amazing. Whether creating an anti-hero or making secondary characters memorable (I think of Second Hand Lions), TV and movies are great examples.

So don’t feel guilty next time your binge watching your favorite series. Think about what makes the show work for your or where it can improve. Ignore the guilt and chalk it up to homework.

Filling your writing toolbox with books

Many a handyman will say that without their toolbox, the work can’t be done. Writers are the same. We fill our toolbox with a variety of tools. We may pick these up at conferences, writing groups, or even blogs (wink, wink). Some of my favorite places to find those gems are books. Great writing books help me look at my writing in a whole different light.

emotion-thesaurus

 

The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. I use this book most frequently and keep it at my desk when writing. Definitely a must have. They also have several others that are worth purchasing.

 

James Scott Bell has so many great books on writing it was hard for me to pick only one, so I didn’t.dialogue-book

How to Write Dazzling Dialogue: The Fasted Way to Improve Any Manuscript

 

conflict-book

 

Conflict and Suspense

 

 

save-the-cat

 

Save The Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need by Black Synder. While about screenwriting, this book covers essential elements on storytelling that every author can use.

 

story-engineering

Story Engineering by Larry Brooks has a great comprehension books on the essential building blocks of a story.

 

 

I’m in the middle of another craft book, so this list may grow. Do you have any that I have missed? Please let me know.