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Using Close-Up Shots to Give Sensory Detail

Back in my first post kicking off this year-long course of supercharging your novel using cinematic technique, I told a short (bad) joke. I’ll share it again here, since I’m going to use it as an example of how you can take a basic scene idea and use Close-Up Shots to highlight details you want the reader to notice. Using specific camera shots is all about getting the reader to pay attention to what you, the writer, want them to notice. The fine details we reveal with a Close-Up shot add flavor and nuance and texture to our scenes, and that’s why they’re the often the best and most commonly used shot. Continue Reading…

Close-Up and Personal—One Stationary Camera Shot

We’re now moving into stationary camera shots in our exploration of cinematic technique that novelists can borrow. As I touched on in an earlier post, there are two types of camera shots: stationary and moving. We’re now taking a “closer” look at Close-Up shots, one of the three basic stationary “distance” shots.

There are plenty of shots that specify a particular distance the camera should be positioned from the action, but I like to break them up into three basic distances, and these are covered by the following camera shots: The Close-Up (CU or Close Shot, sometimes called a 2-Shot for two people in the shot), Medium Shot (MS, or Full Shot), and Long Shot (LS). These are the staple shots. Continue Reading…

Calling the Shots in Screenplays

I love reading through older screenplays. Decades ago, it was the screenwriter’s job to delineate every single shot in a scene, as you can see from the example of The Birds, below, which essentially meant writers had to think like directors and pay close attention to the technical aspects of a script’s structure while trying to write a moving masterpiece. What a tedious way to construct a screenplay! On one hand, the requirements of the structure took away from the creativity of writing the story (I’m thinking it must have). On the other hand, by calling all the shots (literally), a writer took all the creativity away from the director, who was no longer really directing but obeying.  Continue Reading…

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