Category Archive: revising

Mar 28 2013

Writing Scenes, Settings & Descriptions Using the Film Director Method

director2I like to invent crazy methods for writing, and the film director method of writing descriptions is one of them. I’m assuming no one has claimed this method before, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone had. Anyway, it’s easy to apply a method for crafting, especially if it works. Methods are an easy way to remember how to do something and do it well.

So, what is the film director method of writing scenes, settings and overall descriptions? And how can it help you write great descriptions?

What is the Film Director Method?

 

First, it is exactly how it sounds. We all dreamt of seeing our book played out on a movie screen, and this method involves doing exactly that.

According to Wikipedia, a film director is the person who “visualizes” the script while guiding the technical crew and actors in the fulfillment of that vision. In this case the “actors” are your characters and the “crew” is your writing skills. So in other words, a film director sees the film played out in their heads or on storyboards, etc., before they align actors (characters) and crew (writing skill) in order to portray that visual onscreen. This is exactly what you should do when writing your story so readers can visualize your scenes in their minds. A lot of the time, writers tend to see the story played out in their heads but fail to portray that vision onto paper. We tend to forget that the reader needs a lot of information, given in the right way in order to stimulate their senses and make them feel like they’re a part of the story. I’m going to show you how the “author” becomes the “director” with this method.

 

How to implement the method (the right way to stimulate senses):

 

When writing descriptions of settings, scenery, or even character description:

  1. Remember which character’s point of view (POV) you’re writing in and use their own words to describe what they see. This way it would feel true to life and true to that character.
  2. Use descriptive wording or verbs that match the tone and mood of the story. For example, the metaphor, “the boulder dropped out of nowhere like an anvil from a Looney Tune’s episode,” may be considered too cartoonish for a post-disaster tale.
  3. Use all of your senses. Putting the reader in the story is not just about describing what the characters see but also what they hear, smell, feel, and taste. This way you create an experience for the reader and not just telling a story.

Use the 5 senses: Showing vs. Telling. The film director method

 

If you’re wondering the difference between showing or telling, imagine “showing” is similar to using a camera to show the moment onscreen like a director, and imagine “telling” as the actual script telling how the moment should be portrayed onscreen. Readers want to “see the film” not “read the script.”

Show = Camera. Tell = Script. With that in mind, here’s how to use the five senses to describe settings, scenes and characters in your story.

  • What do you see? Not just a concrete floor or a small room. Show your readers by thinking like a film director. Imagine holding the camera yourself as you capture the scene. What color is the concrete floor? Does it look smooth or rough? What makes it look smooth or rough? The cracks and chips flaking off the surface? The way the character’s feet slide effortlessly across as she walks? Show what the camera is picking up. Is it zooming in on a particular spot of the floor? Where and why? The floor in the corner of the room stole your character’s attention because of the puddle of water that has collected there.
  • What do you smell? Is the water leaking from sewer pipes that give off a foul stench? Is it stagnant water from the previous evening’s rain? Or by the smell of it, is it something else entirely, gasoline, urine, oil?
  • What do you feel? Heat? Cold? Moisture? Static or tension in the atmosphere? A breeze? Motionless air?
  • What do you hear? Trickles of water, paint chips from the walls as they fall to the concrete floor, an uneasy silence?
  • What do you taste? Can you taste the bitterness in the air from the smoke coming from the burning pile of hay outside the barn?

Remember, everything that happens in the story including the things the characters sense must be important to the story. Even if the purpose is to show how dirty a place and its residence are, or poorly a place has been taken care of, or how maintained, etc. Everything in fiction happens for a reason and have to make sense in the overall scheme of things.

Using all the senses in description is how to get comments from readers about how they were immersed in the story and felt like they were in the book right alongside your characters. By simply envisioning yourself in the director chair and by writing down the words which describes exactly how you see your story unfolding on a big screen is how to get one step closer to providing that immersion experience for your readers.

Do you have a method you want to share? What do you think of my method?

Feb 07 2013

4 Mistakes I’ve Made in my Writing Career that You Can Learn From

It’s hard to admit you’ve made mistakes. However, admitting your mistakes, at least to yourself, is the necessary first step you must take to learn from them. We all had moments where we wish we had someone to mentor us at the start of our writing careers. Wouldn’t life be easier and less stressful if we could learn from someone else’s mistakes? Well, here’s your chance to learn a thing or two from someone who’s made a few mistakes over her eight-year writing career. Below are some mistakes I’ve made that, hopefully, you’ll never make yourself. And here is a list of 4 MORE mistakes I’ve made in my writing career that you can learn from.

  1.  Failing to acquire the proper editing


 

I’ve actually paid a couple hundred dollars to have one of my earlier books edited. When all was said and done, it turned out I got a critique of my book instead of an actual line edit that I thought I was paying for.

My Mistake: Not understanding and verifying what type of “editing” I was paying for.

The Lesson: Make sure you understand the exact service the editor will provide and agree to those services before paying a cent.

 

  1. Waiting too long to revise a published manuscript


I’ve self-published a book (or two) at the start of my writing career that, looking back, I realized needed a hefty dose of revision. And being a better writer today than I was eight years ago helps in identifying poor writing.

My Mistake: I didn’t revise and republish the book sooner. If I tried to revise the story now, it will take time away from my recent projects and delay the completion of future projects. I’d still be stuck in the past!

The Lesson: If you have a project (book, article, poem, etc.) that is published (i.e. self-published, published to a blog or other website) that’s in need of a revision, do it now or soon. Starting more projects before finishing current responsibilities will keep you from ever revising, or can make it more difficult to go back and revise in the future.

 

  1. Writing several  stories at once


Writers have so many ideas, don’t we? Can’t wait to write them down and start working on some. We get used to having several Word documents opened at the same time, or a different one opened every other day. How did I manage to finish anything if I was working on everything at once?

My Mistake: I’ve had too much going on to focus on anything. And worse, it was hard to keep up with the many characters and plotlines. I ended up scrapping some of the stories and never finishing others, and looking back made me realize that time could have been used much more productively.

The Lesson: Like the lesson above, stick to one project until it’s complete. At the very least, stick with just a couple of your very important projects (i.e. projects with fast approaching deadlines) to make sure you stay focus.

 

 

  1. Not marketing my work


I used to think that if you write a book, readers would come. That’s kind of funny now that I think about it. No, not really. That’s sad. How would anyone ever know about my book if I never let people know it exists?

My Mistake: I told a couple of my friends and family about the book I was so proud of, I made a website and added the cover and back copy description, and then I sat back and waited. Watching as I sold 4 copies this month and 8 copies the next.

The Lesson: If you want readers and sales you have to make your book known to more than your close group of friends. You can’t only rely on word of mouth advertising anymore. You have to get out there and participate in some online activities, make some friends, join a group or too, be a guess blogger, connect with your target audience, make a presence, etc. Here are some Simple Online Book  Marketing Tips you can refer to.