How-To Mini Series: Movies to Books

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Remember in English class when you were supposed to read a book, but you didn't have time, so you just watched the movie (or went to sparknotes)? Or at the very least, you've heard of people doing that, right?

Movies are wonderful because they're a quick, 2-hour "cheatsheet" for a book. (Most) Movies still have the same backbone structure of plot, characterization, and world building that novels have.

Movies are a great reference when you're writing action scenes. Ever heard readers say they saw the novel "like a movie"? Some authors also say they visualize the scenes of their novels playing out like a movie, and they just write what they see.

However, it's very difficult to accurately translate a first person novel, stream of consciousness novels, or novels with "thinker protagonists" into movies since the exposition and inner thoughts of the protagonists, which may be the meat of the story, are lost. Keep that in mind throughout this series. Books and movies are two very different mediums through which a story is conveyed. Both do it in their own way, but some elements may overlap. This series will focus only on that overlap.

First off, please click the EXTERNAL LINK for a series of articles from the website Cockeyed Caravan that describe the differences in exposition and storytelling with books and movies. It's an important distinction to make for this how-to series!

And now, what this how-to mini-series is actually about:

It might be more helpful to you as writers to analyze successful books. I don't read too many books, so I can't help you there. However, I do watch a lot of movies, and there's a lot we can learn from a writing and storytelling perspective by watching movies.

This mini-series will recommend movies you can watch and study if you need help with a certain aspect of your novel such as plot, characterization, setting, romance, mystery, etc. For example, if you need help with anti-heroes, I'll direct you to Chronicle. If you want a mind-bender with a lot of details and foreshadowing, I'll advise you watch The Matrix. I might even have exercises where I link you to a scene from a movie and ask you to translate it into narration.

Coming up first, I'll analyze the movie Warm Bodies for really good, fluffy romance, so tonight's homework is to watch Warm Bodies (and read the How To Write ROMANCE chapter of this guide if you haven't already)!

If you have requests for a movie and an idea of how watching it can help some aspect of your writing, post in the comments and I'll look into it!

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