There are SEVERAL different exercises to practice your writing skills. Some writers like to try thoughtless writing, which is just typing away nonsense words and connecting them into a story. Some just pull up their chair and write a scene that pops into their mind out of the blue. But today, I’m going to share with you something a bit more off the wall.
I’ve found that movies help me a lot with my writing.
What? Movies!? You mean the things you watch as oppose to reading?
Yes, I mean just that.
As a reader, there is nothing wrong with enjoying movies as much as reading those precious books on your shelf. Movies can inspire a writer as easily as a story full of crafty vocabulary and clever storytelling. Of course, I’m not saying that you should turn whatever movie you’ve just watched into a book. First of all, that’s kinda stealing, and it’s just lazy and dishonest. I’m talking about just seeing one thing in the movie that sticks with you and sparks your creativity. Maybe you’ve just watched Spielburg’s E.T., and Elliott’s sister, Gertie, helped you cook up a character who is big-mouthed and whiney. Boom. You now have a character.
Or perhaps you’ve finished watching Coraline, and you’re inspired to write about a magic portal. That’s perfectly okay! Ya know, as long as you don’t write about a little girl with blue hair that found a portal in a huge house that leads to her dream world with a crazy spider-lady who wants to sew buttons into her eyes… That, my friend, would be stealing.
Movies are great for inspiration, as I said. But my the biggest, most helpful tip I want to give you is my personal advice for using movies to improve your writing, and not as a source of inspiration.
Watch the movie as if you would want to write about it. Pay attention to every detail. Maybe you’ve just gone through your favorite scene. Pause the movie and grab your laptop or a piece of paper, and write the scene in your own words.
DO NOT TRY TO MAKE IT YOUR OWN STORY!!! IT’S NOT!!!
Write the scene as if you were writing it for a story. What creative words can you use to describe the scene? At what pace can you tell that part of the story? How can you describe the surroundings? How would you describe the character’s feelings by watching his body language on the screen?
Like I said, this is not a way to get an idea for a story (again, it’s not your story. It’s already been told!), but this is a great way for learning to expand your storytelling talent, and it can help you learn a better way to describe a scene in your story.
For example, I am going to share with you a scene from a movie I watched and put into my own words. Since I am still engaging in my Horror Weekend project, I am going to write the nightmare scene from the 1985 film Silver Bullet, based on the novel Cycle of the Werewolf by Stephen King. (If you haven’t concluded it by now, I may be a little obsessed with Stephen King.)
“The sanctuary fell silent as the congregation finished singing ‘Amazing Grace’, and everyone slowly sat back down into their pews. The room was sorrowful as a few of the church members released occasional mournful sobs, paying their attention to the row of caskets displayed before them.
“It’s hard,” Reverend Lowe began, choking on his own anxiety as every eye was now upon him, “at a time like this to find the words… to offer you any comfort.”
“There is no comfort!” a grieving father cried from the congregation, mocking Reverend Lowe, laughing hysterically. “There is only private justice,” he continued.
Lowe paused, swallowing an awkward lump within the back of his throat. “Mmm…” he uttered, staring down at his podium. With heavy breaths, he continued, “The Bible… t-tells us not to fear the, the terror that creepeth by night or that which flyeth by noonday…” His unsettling breathing continued between his sermon. “A-and yet, we do… We do. Because there’s so much we don’t know. And we feel very small-”
“Reverend!” the voice of the mocker returned with a growl. “He was torn apart!” A sinister growl escaped the man’s mouth as fangs began to grow inside his snarling mouth.
Lowe gasped, his eyes widened with terror as he witnessed the people surrounding him all beginning to change… to transform into hairy, ferocious monsters, ironicizing his own secret. The sound of skin stretching and tearing pierced his ears, and he began to tremble with despair as they all continued to evolve into werewolves. “No!” he shouted, his chest heaving with every breath. Cries and howls of pain filled the room, echoing throughout the sanctuary. Clothes began to rip at their seams, and fur protruded beyond the torn material.
Suddenly, all the light escaped the room, and only lightning and flickering candle flames prevented the church from becoming pitch-black. The bloodcurdling growls grew louder, and adjacent to Lowe’s podium, the woman who had been the pianist was now a horrific monster slamming her claws onto the ivory keys of the piano, slashing and demolishing them in off-key notes. Furry limbs burst abruptly through the closed coffins mere feet away from Lowe, and in seconds, every werewolf within the walls of the church was now surrounding Reverend Lowe and closing in on him, reaching out to him with exposed claws. “No!” he shouted. “No!”…
Lowe arose from the nightmare, gasping for air, his forehead moist from a terrified sweat. After realizing that the previous event was only a dream, he closed his eyes and fell back onto his pillow. “Let it end, dear God, let it end,” he prayed, steadily panting.”
To be honest, I have a lot of fun challenging myself with this exercise. Some may find this a little pointless, but I think it’s a great way to learn how to describe scenes thoroughly in your writing.
I hope you found this idea helpful. I will say it again: I do not encourage you to use this to steal scenes from a movie, but only to better your method of storytelling. Tell me what you think in the comments, and I hope you guys have a great weekend!
Remember to keep your eyes peeled for more of my short horror stories. If you haven’t checked out my own works “Claire” and “7:13 A.M.”, you can find them here on my blog, or if you’re on Facebook, you can find them on my page Fiction with Kay.
Be safe, and keep reading!