August 8, 2019

Writing for the Cinema, Part 2

By Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine

This is a continuation of the presentation of the author of The Rector and The Actress. Michael Hicks Thompson gave to our writer’s group, recently. We covered three of Michael’s tips in my Writing for the Cinema, Part 1 blog post on Tuesday. You may catch up there by going to this link. If you have read Part 1, then let’s continue with his tips on writing cinematically.

Structure. “Books and movies can employ the same beats – beats that can create certain rhythmic feeling inside us. This lets us know that the experience we’re having feels familiar, yet new, all at the same time.” Michael then shared with us the way to do that is with structure. “If you want your story to feel cinematic, you will need to do 2 things:
1) Read this book: Save the Cat, Blake Snyder
2) Download and use 3-Act Diagram. It’s the roadmap for the best storytelling. Once you have mastered this you can deviate. Michael uses the program Scapple to create a mind-mapping outline to streamline his book

Tension, according to Michael, should be included in every chapter, every paragraph and every sentence if possible. It should be anything interesting to keep your readers nose in the book. We have all read books that keep us on the edge of our seats. Tension between the characters plays a big part in that and a big part in the movie that could be made from the book. How many times have you finished a movie and seemed to be exhausted? Ninety minutes of tension can do that to you.

Action. Michael says there are two things an author would rather have more than anything. One is book sales and the other is a movie deal. Action will get you there. Every big story cries out for some BIG moments. A fight? Car chases? Maybe a dramatic courtroom scene. You probably just thought of your favorite ones as you read this. They punctuate the action and grab the reader.

Create Character Arcs. The technique of having your main characters change over the course of the story is a must. Every story should have such an effect on the main character that changes occur. This, character arc, is a technique that one should study.  Again, Michael reminds us to study the craft.

Michael Hicks Thompson is willing to travel to conferences, deliver this and other Keynote addresses, or workshops. Please contact Michael through his web site, for more information and a quote. This 2 part blog does NOT include all the information in the "7 Secrets of Cinematic Writing." Thompson saved his best, I'm not allowed to include it here. You'll need to bring Thompson to your next conference to see his cinematic writing presentation, his Dramatic Irony presentation, or his "7 Secrets to Mystery Writing,” as only Michael can deliver.

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