Author Guest Post: Getting Inspiration From Movies

A good book should have you visualising the plot unfolding in your mind, as though you’re watching a movie, and every writer strives to achieve a rich sensory experience for the reader. Watching movies can be a good way of inspiring writers to create visual and emotional scenes that evoke a strong image in the reader’s mind. They can remind writers to focus on the different senses in a scene - What is the character seeing? What sounds are there? With writing we have only words, but those words have the power to become much more.

I find if I’m stuck with my writing, taking some time to watch a movie can help restart my enthusiasm and remind me of all the little details that can enrich a scene; the setting, the colours, the atmosphere, the facial expressions, the weather, the actions... And good movies with emotional storylines remind me of how powerful fiction can be in stimulating certain emotions. You’d think because it’s fiction we wouldn’t be affected emotionally, but the brain doesn’t differentiate clearly between what it sees and what it imagines. It’s known that watching certain events - real or fake - can stimulate specific parts of the brain and create emotional responses in the body.

A helpful tip when writing certain types of scenes is to watch an example in a movie. So if you want to write a car chase scene, then it could be helpful to watch the car chase scenes out of a movie such as The Bourne Identity. Take notice of how it’s done, press pause and slow motion, and note down what is happening involving all of the senses. The types of books I write are not that likely to involve car chases though, so for me, I’d be more inclined to watch examples of kissing scenes, arguments, funny moments, and heart-wrenching moments. If a scene in a movie has triggered strong emotions in me, I like to take note of what it was about it that caused that reaction. Was it the subject matter? Or the way it was communicated through the actor, such as their bodily reactions and facial expressions? Then I can try and do a similar thing in my writing.

Movies can also help writers with the pacing of their story. Movies have a much more rigid structure than books, and there are certain turning points in the story that almost always occur around the same times, so if you want to get really academic, you can try watching a movie and jotting down each of the turning points and roughly when they occurred. This can help you to see what the main plot points are and how you can replicate this pacing in your own story. Movies are, of course, different to books though, so this is only a way to guide you.

Characters in movies can also help in the creation of your own characters. Think about characters that stood out for you in various movies... why did they stand out? What made them unique? You can flesh out your book characters in the same way.

Some movies I’ve enjoyed that I kept in mind while writing my book, Fast Forward, were 13 Going On 30/Suddenly 30, 17 Again, and Big. Although I didn’t try to replicate anything in particular, they were a general inspiration for the ‘feel’ of the book I wanted to write - something that was both humorous and heartwarming. So if you’re a writer, next time you’re stuck, pop on a DVD and get inspired! :)
Aspiring supermodel Kelli Crawford seems destined to marry her hotshot boyfriend, but on her twenty-fifth birthday, she wakes in the future as a fifty-year-old suburban housewife married to the now middle-aged high school nerd. Trapped in the opposite life of the one she wanted, Kelli is forced to re-evaluate her life and discover what is really important to her. Will she overcome the hilarious and heartbreaking challenges presented to her and get back to the body of her younger self? Or will she be stuck in the nightmare of hot flushes, demanding children, raunchy advances from her husband, and hideous support underwear forever?
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