September 12, 2013

Writing Tip: How Watching Kids' Movies Can Improve Your Writing

I've never seen The Lorax, but after reading this article by Lydia Sharp I think I'm missing out on something. It's true, there are writing lessons to be learned in everything we see, watch and read.
Henry James said, 
“A writer should strive to be a person on whom nothing is lost.” 
The Lorax is not lost on Lydia Sharp. Read her funny but relevant take on the movie.

Everything I Thneed to Know About Writing and Publishing I Learned from THE LORAX by Lydia Sharp 
School is officially out for the summer in my part of the world. For those of us who are parents working mostly from home, this is both a joy and a curse. I love having my son home with me, but it is much more difficult to work. Which is approximately 56 hours of any given day. Living in a single-level, two-bedroom apartment only exacerbates the issue, especially when my son decides to watch his movies at full volume in the room adjacent to my “office”, aka this sad little corner of my kitchen table. There is not even a wall between my work space and the living room.
Despite the insta-migraine this creates, my brain adapts to the situation by attempting to make every bit of data it collects from my environment relevant to my work. A few days ago, my son was watching The Lorax which is a brilliant movie based on a brilliant book. But it’s very colorful and loud and not very conducive to the quiet time required to get my work done. After I’d downed a shot of Excedrin between jovial exclamations of “Thneedville! Thneedville!” the mind meld began. Everything I saw and heard in the other room was suddenly relevant to what I was doing in my sad little corner of writing and editing.  
1. When a story begins with seemingly happy characters in a seemingly perfect world, there had better be Utter Doom ahead.
2. According to O’Hare Air, people will buy anything in a plastic bottle. So put your books in plastic bottles and watch your sales soar!
3. Don’t let anything stand in the way of your author dreams. Unless those dreams require deforestation. In that case, eBooks!
4. When the going gets tough, the tough eat marshmallows.
5. The Once-ler repeatedly cut his story short and told Ted that if he wanted the rest of the story he’d have to come back another day. Give the reader what they want, but not all at once. Holding back the juicy bits until just the right moment can draw out the tension.
6. The Once-ler: “How nice to see someone so undeterred by things like, reality.”
Author, defined.
7. The Lorax: “Nobody’s gonna buy that thing.”
The Once-ler: “Well, fortunately, you’re not the target market. Weirdo.”
Ignore the haters. You aren’t writing for those weirdos.
8. The success of the Once-ler’s Thneed comes out of nowhere.
No one knows why certain books take off and others don’t. But when a book does skyrocket, people are going to notice, and then they have to see what all the fuss is about. And then everyone thinks they need to read that book, even if they know they won’t like it, just so they can have an opinion on it. This can work in your favor. It can also not work for you at all. As was the case with the Once-ler, a jolt of unexplained success is not always good for the long run.
And BTW, if you're a writer you should subscribe to the online publication Writer Unboxed. I don't know how they manage to come up with so many wonderful contributors with so much valuable info and writing tips but they do, consistently. It's one of my favorite writing sites. 

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