Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Why Movies Make Me A Better Writer -- Sometimes

My family and I saw the final Hunger Games movie this weekend, and I’ll admit I was rather underwhelmed. It didn’t flow well, everything that happened was fairly predictable, many of the “surprises” were telegraphed so far in advance there wasn’t much surprise left, and I won’t even discuss the logic flaws. Cinema Sins is going to have a field day with this one. I haven’t read the book, so I have no idea if this was the book’s fault or the director’s, but in the end it didn’t really matter. We stuffed ourselves with popcorn and Raisinettes, we drank a week’s supply of high fructose corn syrup, and we entertained ourselves on the drive home with a discussion of the movie’s problems. All was good.

The real point of this post, however, is that whenever I drive home from a movie, my mind is usually running about 100 miles per hour. I’m thinking about how the movie followed story structure. I’m recalling all the clever bits of dialogue and how the director got by with so little words. And most of all, I’m thinking how I can use the experience to make my own stories better.

Going to movies always gets my writing juices going.

For about a half hour after a movie, all I want to do is rush back home and work on my story. If my family would let me, I’d bring my laptop to the theater and begin working on my manuscript as soon as the lights came back on. It’s the same feeling I get after a writer’s group meeting or a writer’s conference. The subtleties of writing suddenly make sense to me.

That is, until I sit down in front of the computer and run head first into that brick wall again. What the hell? Everything made so much sense when I was watching the damn movie, why can’t I tap into that frame of mind now? Arg!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Do movies affect you in the same way?



  1. Oh yes! After seeing a good movie (or an utterly awful one) the creative juices are always flowing. But typically it's just me working out how I'd do the movie differently or whatever and I've never sat down with my own stuff. Maybe I should. Maybe that would actually pump out some words haha

  2. Movies are one of my greatest inspirations. Maybe you need to record your thoughts after seeing one and play them back when you're at your desk? That might help.

  3. I get inspired, but I think differently than you. I'm horrible at identifying any structure beyond the 75% (All is Lost) moment. And I can't identify structure in my own story, so I don't get too distracted.

    Maybe, can you stream a video to your computer, and as soon as the inspiration hits, turn it off and start typing?

  4. I don't typically get inspired by movies. A TV show? Maybe. I will pick apart movies and characters with my hubby, but when I'm watching them, I'm mostly unwinding.

    The last Hunger Games movie was exactly like the book, only better. (So you didn't miss too much.) The book was a wreck and I blame the deadlines the poor author was facing.

  5. My undergraduate degree is in film (emphasis on media studies and screenwriting), so I don't know that I get inspired to write [books] by movies because I've been "trained" to take them apart in so many other ways. In fact, I have to approach most of my writing projects with the whole, "Is this a script, a play, or a story/novel?" And sometimes it's more than one and I have to decide which format to tackle first! I do love Cinema Sins, though!

  6. I've been inspired to create certain stories from movies, TV, anime, video games, etc. many times before. But, I think what makes me want to sit down and get some writing done like there's no tomorrow is reading a really freaking GOOD book. That's what makes me pumped for writing my own books. (The H.P. books are some of the ones that work for me, btw ;)