Monday, June 13, 2016

Writing Cinematically

We are very excited to have best-selling author Deb Raney as our guest today. Leave a comment in the section provided below, and you will be eligible to win a copy of Deb's newest book, Close to Home. Be sure to check back next week to see if you are the winner.


By Deb Raney

If I’d known my first novel, A Vow to Cherish, would be made into a movie, I would have written it differently—more visually. Since learning more about screenwriting, I’ve discovered ways to apply film techniques that make my novels more “cinematic.” (And hopefully more likely to be turned into movies!)

1. Jump cuts and fade outs. Don't feel like you have to wrap every scene up in a nice bow. It's perfectly fine to jump into a scene in the middle of action already in progress (without knowing what kind of car your characters drove to get there). It's also fine—even preferred—to end a scene in the middle of the action and simply JUMP to the next scene. You don't always need a closed door or a good-bye to the phone call.


2. Cliffhanger. A good way to keep your readers turning pages is to end your scenes in the middle of action. Force the reader to turn the page to find out what you left him hanging not knowing. Just be sure you SHOW that cliffhanger instead of telling about it. Don't say: Little did he know it would be their last night together. Instead: The doorbell startled him. He pushed back the curtain to see a police car parked in the snowy driveway, its emergency lights eerily dimmed.  

3. Dissolve. In a similar way, you can end one scene and transition to the next by taking a visual element from the first scene and using it in the next. For example, in the story of Snow White, you might zoom in on the deadly apple as the wicked stepmother poisons it, then open the next scene with a close-up of the apple in Snow White's hand as she brings it to her mouth. Dissolves work especially well in comedy where a character says, “Oh, Harvey would never do that." And of course, the next scene opens with Harvey doing exactly that.

4. Zooms. If the movie camera zooms in on an object, you can bet that object will play a significant role in the story later. By taking your writer’s "camera" and describing a close-up of an object or action, you give it the same importance as an object zoomed in on in a movie.


5. Lighting. Describing the light in your scene—bright and sunny, hazy, moonlit, etc.—not only gives the reader a visual image to picture, but also sets the mood, or creates a metaphor for good/evil, happiness/depression, etc.

6. Establishing shot. In film, an establishing shot is a long or wide-angle shot opening a scene to show the audience the locale/setting (or era, weather, time of day). In writing, sometimes this type of opening is written in omniscient point of view, and the author then zooms in on a more specific point in the setting—inside a house, for instance. This is a great way to paint the big picture. Just remember: today’s readers don't have the patience for more than a paragraph or two of description.

7. Background music. You can create a wonderful mood for your scene by helping the reader hear the music that would be the soundtrack if your novel were a movie. Have your character flip on the radio or play a musical instrument. Have her always singing or humming or whistling. Have music from a grocery store waft to the character's ears. The reader will hear those songs in her mind and your story will be so much richer for it.



Do you have any other suggestions for bringing your story to life? We would love to hear from you.

(Photos courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/Stuart Miles/sixninepixels/stockimages.)

TWEETABLES


DEBORAH RANEY's first novel, A Vow to Cherish, inspired the World Wide Pictures film of the same title and launched her writing career after twenty happy years as a stay-at-home mom. She is currently completing a five-book series, The Chicory Inn Novels. Deb and her husband, Ken, recently traded small-town life in Kansas––the setting of many of Deb's novels––for life in the (relatively) big city of Wichita. They love traveling to visit four children and seven grandchildren who all live much too far away. Visit Deb on the Web at www.deborahraney.com.


https://ssl.gstatic.com/ui/v1/icons/mail/images/cleardot.gif


21 comments:

  1. not sure how you can make a book more visual, they each have their own way of letting you know what is happening...look at Gone with the wind, my could you feel all that was seen in the movie through the pages of a book, I think visual is more. I do feel lot of emotions when reading too.thanks for sharing.
    Paula O

    ReplyDelete
  2. Very interesting thoughts on using film techniques in your writing. Love the visual images Deb paints in her writing.

    ReplyDelete
  3. First of all, why aren't more of Deborah's books made into movies? Vow to Cherish was good too. If writers wrote books thinking that they would be movies, that would change the impact of the written word. Would like to read/win this book. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I do want the book to stir some emotions... would enjoy reading your books!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I rarely have a problem visualizing a good story. That's why I have loved reading since the very first Dick, Jane, and Sally book was placed into my little hands. If the story is well told, I can see the characters in my mind and become a silent witness to the goings on in the book. Because your mind is able to create such vivid pictures, I am often disappointed in movies made from favorite books because they can't capture the essence of the story. I have traveled the world and distant planets through my books.. And Deborah's are special!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Margie. I'm like you in always thinking the book was better than the movie!

      Delete
  6. I LOVE THAT THIS SERIES IS SET IN SOUTHEAST MISSOURI AS THAT'S WHERE I WENT TO COLLEGE, LIVED AS A YOUNG MARRIED & HAD MY FIRST JOB AS A NURSE. IT BRINGS BACK LOTS OF GOOD MEMORIES AS I READ...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How cool that you've lived in my setting. I love Southeast Missouri, and both our daughters graduated from SEMO. :)

      Delete
  7. I get to know my characters and they bring life into my stories.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I am looking forward to reading this book.Thanks for the chance to win it.I have never read a post like this,thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thanks so much for all the comments and encouraging words! And thanks, Andrea for having me on the blog!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I've had the idea of writing my story like a movie. Now I have some insights about accomplishing the task. Thank you. Hope I win the book.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Even as a non-fiction writer, I find these tips helpful. I just completed a repelling of a Bible story and employed many of these techniques to help my readers feel like they were really there. Thank you for including practical examples to help us fully understand the concepts you've described.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Great information, Deb. Thank you for sharing and inspiring us in our serve as writers.
    Share on!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Deb, I love this lesson on writing visually. Thanks for helping us write our novels in preparation for our films! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Deb, thank you for this interesting post! :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. Interesting article. I do enjoy reading and visualizing what I read. When a novel has been made into a movie, the characters are generally not quite what my imagination dreamed up.
    betsylu2@msn.com

    ReplyDelete
  16. This is a great post and offers insight I've never considered like adding music to the background setting. How cool is that? Thanks Deb! I'd love to read this book.

    ReplyDelete

We value you and your input very much! Please don't hate us for using word verification - we like to keep spammers out. Thanks for taking the time to share your love with each other and us!