Getting Schooled: If we were a movie

Now here’s a chapter I think we can all get behind. Butler calls it cinema of the mind. He’s not talking adaptations here, but rather film techniques writers can use. These are:

  • The shot: A unit of uninterrupted flow of imagery.
  • The cut: A transitional device for getting from one shot to another.
  • Dissolve: A transitional device that superimposes a second image over the first as it fades out.
  • Scenes: Unified actions occurring in a single time and place; a group comprises a sequence.

Butler considers the montage the most crucial element (that’s why it gets its own paragraph). This is where you put two things next to each other, causing a third to emerge.

For instance, we see pie tin with a bit of lone crust, a smear of chocolate filling, a bit of whipped cream. On the floor, two children (perhaps a big brother and his little sister), mouths rimmed with chocolate, whipped cream on noses and cheeks, the two snoozing lightly.

Yeah, we pretty much know what went on.

And that’s pretty much it. I know. Butler, this easy? Okay, so in the text, he goes into detailed (but helpful) examples from Hemingway and Dickens. But the advice is to write the movie in your mind.


Filed under Getting Schooled, Writing

2 responses to “Getting Schooled: If we were a movie

  1. This seems more and more effective for me, particularly given a certain type of story. Some things are more cinematic than others.

  2. Amy

    My early draft is always dialogue/action heavy, because this is how I see the story.

    But I suspect Butler’s about to hit us with a real whammy, isn’t he?

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