With CIFF in full swing, I got to thinking about books and movies. Although film and literature occasionally seem at odds (Bonfire of the Vanities, anyone?), cringe-inducing adaptations are just one piece of the puzzle. Books and movies are two sides of the same coin: each uses plot and characters to express a theme and provoke a response in its audience. Each form works creatively to capture an idea through art. And most importantly, each has tried its hand at The Notebook.
If you’re a movie-buff as well as a book-lover, here are some tips for using film in your writing:
For the academic writer
Take a cue from high school English classes and write a paper comparing a book to its film adaptation. I know, ‘Essays for fun? Who am I – Rory Gilmore?’
but this is a great way to get your critical gears spinning. If you need some guidance, check out Arne Engelstad’s paper on reading film adaptations as educational texts.
For the DIY writer
Make a film version of your own work. Sounds corny, but this process could help you fill in gaps in your story while removing inessential material. There’s no need to get fancy – a five minute webcam version will do. Just think of it as sweding
your own work. If you’re feeling extra ambitious, you can even play the lead
For the contemplative writer
If you’re not ready to call ‘action,’ there are other ways to view your work through a cinematic lens. The Millions has an interesting piece on visual grammar
in storytelling. Try asking yourself: is my work more about long shots or close-ups? Should I zoom in? Zoom out? Incorporate an oblique shot
For the muse-seeking writer
Write a piece based on a favourite film. Interacting with other art forms is a great way to stimulate creativity (How many people went home and waxed poetic about light bulbs after Nuit Blanche
?). For inspiration, check out this list of books based on films
For the versatile writer
Write a screenplay! Screenplays are the rich centre of the film/writing Venn diagram. Try one out to expand your creative horizons and beef up your dialogue-writing skills.