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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Putting the Movie in Your Head Onto the Page

In September I was privileged to attend a class by this title at the Midwest LDStorymakers Writers Conference. The presenter was super cool--Adam Glendon Sidwell.
Okay, I'll be honest. I didn't know who he was at first, and you probably don't either. BUT trust me. He's very cool. Before becoming an author of MG fiction he worked in the movies. His title was something along the lines of Creature Technical Director. Yep, he used computers to create some very memorable characters. Here's a list of some of the movies he's worked on. Bet you've never heard of ANY of them.

  • Thor
  • Ender's Game
  • Pacific Rim
  • Tron, Legacy
  • Transformers, Revenge of the Fallen
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Speed Racer
  • I Am Legend
  • Pirates of the Caribbean, At World's End
  • King Kong
  • I, Robot

No, none of them? I didn't think so.

Anyway, Adam talked about the things he learned about timing, pacing and staging scenes from working on successful movies. Things that can help our writing tremendously.

He covered several things that movies don't do as well as books such as Viewpoint, Structure and Story. Why? Because when $150 million is on the line, directors stick to formulas that work. AKA sell movie tickets.

Movies can't delve into the inner workings of the mind as well as books. My personal example of this is The Host. Don't shoot me, but I loved the book, HATED the movie. The only thing they had in common were title and the characters had the same names. What made the book good for me was the inner struggle between Wanda and Melanie, but more importantly between Wanda and herself. All that internal dialogue was really lost in the movie. Among other things.

But, moving forward!

Movies do a great job grabbing your attention and keeping it. They use the setting and music to help set tone and mood. We need to do the same. Minus the music. :)

The part that stuck with me the most was this--

The Walking Down the Hall Scene

You know what I'm talking about, right? Sometimes as writers we feel the need to show every step from A to Z. Instead of cutting the scene where the main character leaves his office, walks down the hall, waits for the elevator, rides down, walks through the parking garage, gets in his car and drives to the restaurant (breathe)--in movies the MC is in his office, then he's at the restaurant.

See how much time we saved by not watching all the boring parts?

That's what I'm working on now. Cutting out all the stuff I wouldn't want to watch in a movie.

What do you think movies do well?
How can you translate that to your writing?

Adam with his wife.
In between books, Adam Glendon Sidwell uses the power of computers to make monsters, robots and zombies come to life for blockbuster movies such as Pirates of the Caribbean, King Kong, Pacific Rim, Transformers and Tron. After spending countless hours in front of a keyboard meticulously adjusting tentacles, calibrating hydraulics, and brushing monkey fur, he is delighted at the prospect of modifying his creations with the flick of a few deftly placed adjectives. He’s been eating food since age 7, so feels very qualified to write the Evertaster series. He once showed a famous movie star where the bathroom was.

Adam wrote every single word in the EVERTASTER series, the picture book FETCH, and the upcoming CHUM.


Sheena-kay Graham said...

Whether movie or book you need to grab the audience's attention. So cool you got to meet this guy. I'm just wowed that he was involved in Speed Racer. I'm in crazy love with that movie.

Liz A. said...

It's definitely a process--taking out the "boring parts".

Kristin Smith said...

Awesome post! Sounds like a very informative conference! And Adam sounds super cool and full of great advice for writers.