I love sitting down and watching a good movie. A few of my favourites are Just Friends, Head Over Heels, A Walk to Remember and Patch Adams. I have about 100 more, but I don’t think you want to read a whole post about my favorite movies. So instead, here are 3 things movies taught me about writing. (Okay, maybe a bit more than 3)
Titanic, My Sister’s Keeper, The Notebook.
Movie: These movies all touched on the difficult subject of death in a different way and none of them had an ideal happy ending. However, in my opinion, they all had a satisfying one. (Okay, except My Sister’s Keeper. I had read the book beforehand and was really ticked off when I saw they changed the ending.)
Lesson: A few lessons can be taken from this. The first is that the ending doesn’t have to be happy, but it does have to be satisfying. Don’t be afraid to make your character’s suffer and know that it’s okay if they are still suffering at the end of the story. In my experience, it can be scary to give a story the unhappy ending it demands as opposed to the happy one you could write. But it’s also been my experience that the story is much more satisfying when you give it the ending it is demanding, even if it isn’t your characters living happily ever after.
You don’t have to be afraid to write about difficult subjects, but you do have to handle them with a great amount of care. Do your research and make sure you have your facts straight. The last thing you want to do is offend someone.
Look for a fresh approach. The market for cancer books is highly saturated and it is getting harder to sell a story with cancer as it’s main story line. If you are about to write or are writing something on a topic that had already been overexposed (*cough cough* vampires and werewolves) make sure you have a fresh approach.
Movie: I was with a friend when I watched this and we both thought it was a very funny movie. However, we laughed at completely different times. A nerdy character in this movie would make all these nerdy references that flew right over my head, but my friend thought they were absolutely hysterical.
Lesson: Not everyone has the same type of humour. Something that you think is hilarious in your writing, may have someone else scratching their head. This is where getting to know your target audience really comes in to play. It won’t completely solve the issue, but if you can get an idea of who you are writing for that means you can get an idea of what they will find humorous. I’m not saying to know exactly who your audience is, but by the end of your first draft, you should have a rough idea.
Salt, The Big Bounce, The Perfect Getaway
Movie: All three of these movies had fresh twists and surprises that I didn’t see coming. They kept me engaged and made me want to keep watching.
Lesson: Keep your readers guessing. I personally hate to read a book where I’m only a few chapters in and I can tell you how it ends. However, it doesn’t always have to be the ending that’s surprising. It could be a plot twist anywhere at all, an action of one of your characters, your word choice, your literary devices etc. Keep it fresh!
What’s your favourite movie and what has it taught you?