Tag Archive - cinematic technique

Why You Should Shoot Your Novel

There’s a whole lot more to “showing” than you think!

Sol Stein in his book Stein on Writing says, “Twentieth-century readers, transformed by film and TV, are used to seeing stories. The reading experience for a twentieth-century reader is increasingly visual. The story is happening in front of his eyes.”

This is even more true in the twenty-first century. As literary agent and author Donald Maass says in Writing 21st Century Fiction: “Make characters do something that readers can visualize.”

I mentioned that writers are told to show, not tell, yet they’re not shown how.

Here’s what I say in Shoot Your Novel:

There are myriad choices a writer has to make in order to “show” and not “tell” a scene. Writers are often told they need to show, which in essence means to create visual scenes the reader can “watch” unfold as they read.

But telling a writer to “show” is vague. Just how do you show? How do you transfer the clearly enacted scene playing in your mind to the page in a way that not only gets the reader to see just what you want her to see but also comes across with the emotional impact you intend?

Writers know that if they say “Jane was terrified,” that only tells the reader what Jane is feeling; it doesn’t show her terrified. So they go on to construct a scene that shows Jane in action and reacting to the thing that inspires fear in her. And somehow in doing so writers hope they will make their reader afraid too. Continue Reading…

6 Cinematic Techniques You Can Apply to Your Novel Right Now

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…

How to Construct Scenes Using a Variety of Camera Shots

For this week’s Throwback Thursday, we’re looking at excerpts from past posts on Live Write Thrive that tie in with our exploration on scene structure.

From A Variety of Shots to Paint the Big Picture:

Here’s a great sequence of shots from the opening of Apocalypse Now (1975) showing the camera moving in and out, panning, making the viewer see a series of specific things writer/director Francis Ford Coppola feels it’s important to see (the original screenplay was written by John Milius). Coppola’s aim is to get close and personal to the experience of being in this primal jungle in a hotbed of war, practically immersing the viewer in the swamp of mud.

PRIMEVAL SWAMP – EARLY DAWN

It is very early in the dawn—blue light filters through the jungle and across a foul swamp. A mist clings to the trees. This could be the jungle of a million years ago.

Our VIEW MOVES CLOSER, through the mist, TILTING DOWN to the tepid water. A small bubble rises to the surface; then another. Suddenly, but quietly, a form begins to emerge; a helmet. Water and mud pour off revealing a set of beady eyes just above the mud. Printed on a helmet, in a psychedelic hand, are the words: “Gook Killer.” Continue Reading…

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