Super Inspiring

June 22, 2011

On Wednesdays, I'll cross-post my blog from Routines for Writers here…

If you haven't seen SUPER 8, the new movie by J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg, run don't walk to your nearest cineplex! I've seen it twice now – the very first showing on the very first day with John in Sydney, and last night with my family and friends in California. In my opinion, it's the E.T. of the decade!

One of the best things about summer blockbusters is that many of them tend to be movies that really inspire me to think of far more creative stories than I might otherwise come up with. Of course, sometimes they make me feel like I'll never think up stories as awesome as these writers' stories! 😀

Some of the things I learned by watching Super 8 include:

  • Make the young people as fascinating to follow as the adults. They might take over the story but you'll be pushing your writing to a fresher level.
  • Think of other ways to tell the kind of story you're writing. The “extra character” (I don't want to say too much if you haven't seen the movie yet) is not what I expected, but I was fascinated by the unexpected parts.
  • You're going to capture your audience with emotion. Stephen King grosses me out. Dean Koontz scares me. Julie Garwood makes me fall in love. I have to remember to not just tell a good story, but to tell it with all the emotional complexity I've got inside me. (Plus, you'll begin to be known for the kind of emotion youalways deliver.)
  • Write something playful, entertaining, FUN! So what if I'm not going to be eligible for the Pulitzer Prize? I've always told stories (sometimes called “lying” when I was a little kid) because I wanted to hear people laugh or gasp. It's the biggest reason I spend so much time talking! LOL!
  • And finally, “Drugs are soo bad!”

After seeing Super 8 twice (and already I want to see it again), I started thinking of different ways to tell the same story. You know, what agents and editors say they want – the same thing, but different. What if your vampire novel wasn't about the vampire but another character who was affected but didn't actually meet the vampire until the climax? What if your monster wasn't really monstrous but so much more evolved and intelligent that it became monstrous out of frustration? What if your anti-hero wasn't really an anti-hero, but someone working undercover who had to continue with the ruse to accomplish his or her mission?

Watching a movie like Super 8 might help you get a fresh line of ideas. I felt the same way after watching Inception and The Adjustment Bureau. Are there any other movies you've seen that have done this for you?

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