Wednesday, October 19, 2011

How movies help us write

This past weekend I attended the North Houston Romance Writers of America Writer’s Conference where author/screenwriter Alexandra Sokoloff taught her acclaimed workshop of screenwriting tricks for author. I’ve read her book, “Screenwriting Tricks for Authors” and absolutely loved it. I’m a huge fan of outlining and I personally feel that storyboarding is the best way to go. That may be because I’m a very visual person. I wrote my first YA manuscript as a panster and it became a disaster in the revision process when I kept finding plot holes and major character flaws.

Now I storyboard. I learned from Sokoloff that some of our best writing tools are movies. In her book and workshop she suggests listing 10 movies that are similar to what you write. From there you have something to analyze based on the criteria that she teaches. There really is a formula to the craft and it isn’t rocket science to follow it.

An area that I’ve been struggling with is how to wrap up my sub plots in my current WIP. I love books that have strong sub plots that compliment and add to the overall theme of the plot. I love how these elements can add beautiful layers to a well-written story. She suggested focusing on movies that do this well and modeling my structure after that. I found this to be great advice and now I’m making a list of movies with strong sub plots.

Overall, it was a wonderful conference and weekend. I got to meet some fantastic literary agents, see some of my writing friends and baby got to see family. If it wasn’t for the car breaking down on the drive down from Arkansas the weekend would have been a complete success!

You can learn more about Alexandra Sokoloff at her website. I highly recommend her book “Screenwriting Tricks for Authors.” How have used movie viewing to help your writing skills?


The 2012 Write-It-Forward Workshop schedule is up. Take a look at the fantastic line-up including back by popular demand, Writing Moms (March 2012) and the new Time Management for the Busy Writer (October 2012) in time for NANOWRIMO both by Natalie C. Markey.

A percentage of the profits from Markey’s ‘Caring for Your Special Needs Dog’ go to The Texas A&M Foundation to the benefit of the Neurology Section, Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinarian Medicine.

Blog Mash-ups:

Nanowrimo: Narrative Structure Cheat Sheet by Author and Screenwriter Alexandra Sokoloff

Tips on Marketing Your Novel by Literary Agent Natalie M. Lakosil

1 comment:

  1. Certainly is a solid plan. I know I've learned a great deal about pacing and even the subtlety of elements through movies, shows and especially modern stories/games like Alan Wake. These are successful for a reason, why wouldn't we draw on their techniques? Great one Natalie.