Monday, September 26, 2011

You Have Homework....

How do you unwind your writer’s mind? I listen to music and watch movies. Movies though, I must admit feel like homework for me. I’m always trying to find the inciting incident, looking to see if the hook grabbed me, watching the character arc…you get the picture.

I’m a little nuts.

But there's a lesson in this obsessive-compulsive practice of mine: it makes me a better writer. I can immediately spot the inciting incident in most books I read and in my own MS. Well, I’d better be able to do that with my own work. Right!

Do you know your inciting incident? Do you have a killer hook or opening chapter? Will it grab your reader and make them keep turning the page even though their eyes are on fire from sleep deprivation? Let’s hope so. Not the sleep deprivation but the continued page turning. What about your character arch? Does your character grow/change as the story progresses? They should.

So, the next time you watch a movie: Stop. Put your writerly cap on. Invite the muses. Pop some popcorn. You can even grab a voice recorder to make notes. Then plop down into a comfy chair and do your writing homework. Believe me, it’s worth it.

Have a great day. Read a book and laugh!


  1. I'm constantly looking at TV shows, movies, etc. as a writer. My husband thinks it's crazy how many things I pick up on and comment on so early in the shows. I can't seem to turn that part of my brain off--even when I'm relaxing. But I'm okay with that.

  2. I'm a definite armchair critic of films, TV and books. However I've developed the knack to see the cleverness and the failures along with also enjoying the ride.

    Great post.

  3. I hardly ever have time to watch movies or TV -- but now when I do, you're going to make me work at it! LOL. This is great advice though. Thanks for sharing.

  4. I watch movies for entertainment. That said, you raise a good point. I know how helpful it is to re-read a book to see how the author has put it together and agree that watching movies with a critical eye can do the same thing. Plus, it's faster than re-reading a book!

  5. Yes, I totally dissect plot points when I watch films. It's like a fun game for me. If I can guess every plot point correctly, the screenwriter or author has not done a thorough enough job in creating the unexpected.

  6. Dawn- I am a movie freak, love watching them, for entertainment always, because sometimes the mind needs to be still, but like you I am turned on. I pay attention without trying. Is the character interesting, do they appeal to me, do they have a story worth learning?? All questions I ask without knowing. I've long accepted that writer in me is always looking where with or without my knowing it.

  7. Sorry everyone I have been MIA on comments this post and the last one. I started a new job so I'm really trying to adjust and keep up with everything. Thanks for the comments. And yeah, that writerly part of me just won't turn off. LOL Believe me it used to annoy me.

  8. I know exactly how you feel about the writerly mind not turning off. I watch movies for enjoyment most of the time, but I am having more and more trouble reading books for enjoyment. I feel like a teacher grading a paper, sometimes - and these are published novels!

    Speaking of music to unwind the writer's mind, here's a playlist I put together: Yay for dance music!


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