Tag Archive - cinematic technique

The Fun Way to Learn How to “Show, Don’t Tell”

Many of you joined me a couple of years ago on this blog as we strolled through the movie lots in Hollywood and tried on some different hats. Meaning, you learned a bit about thinking like a director, a film editor, and a screenwriter.

I want to revisit some of the ideas I put out to you because I feel they are so helpful. If you don’t have Shoot Your Novel, consider getting it and digesting all the unique, great material in there. No other book explains and shows how novelists (or writers of any kind of fiction or creative nonfiction) can use cinematic technique effectively.

The book isn’t about story structure—it doesn’t tell you where all the plot points and turning points are. It’s about approaching scene structure the way directors do—as a compilation of segments, using different camera shots, which then get edited into a smooth, seamless scene.

If you learn only one thing from Shoot Your Novel, I hope it’s this: your job as the creator of your story is to make your reader pay attention to what you want her to.

Cinematic technique for scene building is all about leading your reader visually by the hand and showing her what you want her to see. Continue Reading…

3 Ways to Make Your Novel’s First Page Cinematic

Today’s post is a reprint from some years back—important technique for anyone writing fiction!

Readers will often stop reading before they finish the first page of your story. While this has always been true, in this fast-paced age that foments impatience, it’s even more true.

If a writer doesn’t deliver what a reader hopes for on that first page, it’s going to be tough to convince the reader to stick around for the whole chapter—let alone the whole book.

There are lots of things needed on a first page of a novel or short story. And while it’s not a hard-and-fast rule that all these elements have to show up on page 1, the more elements a writer includes, the better.

This, of course, is going to vary a lot. And if a writer is starting with a prologue or some scene that doesn’t introduce the protagonist, that makes a difference as well. But the overall objective, regardless of opening scene, isn’t going to change. And that is to engage the reader. Continue Reading…

6 Tips to Make Your Scenes Visually Dynamic

Today’s post is a reprint from 2016.

Many of us were raised watching thousands of movies and television shows. The style, technique, and methods used in film and TV are so familiar to us, we process them comfortably. To some degree, we now expect these elements to appear in the novels we read—if not consciously, then subconsciously.

We know what makes a riveting scene in a movie, and what makes a boring one—at least viscerally. And though our tastes differ, certainly, for the most part we agree when a scene “works” or doesn’t. It either accomplishes what the writer or director has set out to do, or it flops.

As writers, we can learn from this visual storytelling; what makes a great movie can also strengthen a novel or short story. Much of the technique filmmakers use can be adapted to fiction writing. Continue Reading…

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