1. Drmoses
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    Drmoses Member

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    I think visually, like a movie. Is this bad or good for writing?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Drmoses, May 9, 2014.

    Here's the deal. My brain conceives stories and their plots as there was a movie playing in my head. I'm wondering if anyone else has this and if it challenges them when they try to put things on paper?

    One of the issues for me is pacing. When I write things, it sometimes escapes me that I can be more descriptive and spend more time setting things up. Visualizing the "movie" in my brain makes me want to pick up the pace so that more events are happening at a rapid pace.

    I suppose the other way of thinking about this is that its a gift? If I can write well enough to transmit my mental imagery to the reader with ease, I suppose that could make for some outstanding work?

    Thoughts?
     
  2. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I used to do that all the time. Then I realized that resulted in pushing the reader away from the characters and putting them on the seat, like someone watching TV.

    That's not what I want: I want the reader to feel like they are the character, so nowadays when I visualize my writing (I still do that, I'm a pretty visual person), I try to see the events in the story through my character's eyes. I find it helps me keep the reader closer to the character, closer to the action, and it makes the experience a bit more intense.

    Of course there's the danger of making the reading experience claustrophobic, so you have to be careful with that method as well, but I still think even that's better than pushing the reader away, keeping them distant, because at least when they feel like they're right inside the character's head, they are more likely to experience the intended emotions etc. more strongly whereas if you keep the reader far away, it's more likely they don't connect to the characters as well and don't really feel the emotions I want to evoke.
     
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  3. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    Another danger of writing cinematically is the impulse to over-detail things like setting, character, movements and such. It will have the same feel as a camera panning through a scene as readers "look in" on characters' every actions and line, panning around the room or setting, then switching shots as characters interact. Or in action scenes, one runs the risk of trying to describe big moments in wide panoramic shots by pointing out moments all over the place before narrowing down to the main character again. Or in tight emotional scenes, one might over-dramatize things, trying to be sure that readers see character expressions, and hear the feeling in their voices, when readers should be feeling the tension of the moment and imagining what characters look and sound like based on that.

    As to how to accomplish that, I'm still learning, but it takes time and practice to break out of the cinematic writing style and into the mode of fiction for the page. in which one must infuse character interiority and employ other techniques besides evoking certain feelings. :p
     
  4. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I second everything @Andrae Smith just said. I tend to over-describe how characters look, sometimes what they do etc, so visualization can also be a hindrance if you get carried away with it.

    After all, a picture tells more than a thousand words, but since words are our medium, we shouldn't try to do what pictures do, but impart our visions in a way that works in a literary context, since both formats, literary and visual, have their strengths and weaknesses. Play to your strengths.
     
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  5. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    It's not too bad. Just remember you're also in the movie as both the director and the star. You see all, but you must also feel all.
     
  6. Renee J
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    Renee J Contributing Member

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    I'm terrible at visualizing things. I picture the same room in different layouts throughout my book.
     
  7. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Keep in mind that films and novels are two different media, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Films show everything to the viewer, leaving very little unanswered. Novels leave things to the reader's imagination (over-explaining is a common weakness among novice writers). In film, if one wants to reveal backstory, one must devote a scene (or more) to it, usually as a flashback. In a novel, one can simply make reference to it, allocating no more than a paragraph. Films often tend to be dialogue-intensive, while heavy dialogue in novels can slow things down and inhibit the telling of the story.

    Visualizing is one thing, but the danger is that instead of telling the story, you report what is happening on the movie screen in your head. What that really means is that you are denying yourself of the advantages of writing. As @T.Trian pointed out, that places the reader at a greater distance instead of in the shoes of your mc.
     
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  8. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Try Pinterest or even Google Images to expand your repertoire.
     
  9. mg357
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    mg357 Active Member

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    Drmoses I do the exact same thing and I find it helpful very helpful.
     
  10. Bryan Romer
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    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

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    I am the same. Since I write plot based and not character based stories, it works fine for me. When you are working with many characters at different locations all doing things at the same time, or describing two parties on a collision course, tight mental focus doesn't work.
     
  11. Drmoses
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    Drmoses Member

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    Thanks for the replies. Its good to see some different perspectives. Some of this advice has actually helped me already as at times I tend to read back what I write and discover that I feel that distance you've described. I never attributed it to the visual style though, until now. This just might be the advice I need to conquer a few hurdles I've been having in my various projects! :)
     
  12. Ritrezer
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    Ritrezer Member

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    Yup, I'm like that too- and yes I face a bunch of similar problems. @T.Trian has good advice, see it through your character's eyes- It's something I'm sort of learning to do. But yes, it really is fun- watching a movie of your book in the head. :D Visions that I get are often how I make my stories, the more I get- the more concepts/ideas I have for stories and I sort of have this sub-conscious story structure that I apply to all of them, any TADA I have a story. So, yeah- I know how it is.

    Well, the description issue was a dilemma to me in the beginning but then after extensive learning I've found out that it's usually easier to focus on one part of the description and go along with it. Like instead of describing the whole house at once, just briefly mention what's in it and then focus on one small detail like all the walls were red. Anyway what I suggest is- Read as much as you can- everything you can get your hands on and slowly you'll learn from it. :)

    Good Luck!
     
  13. ChaosReigns
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    ChaosReigns Be Still and Know Contributor

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    i will be honest, i tend to do that, but i have it under control in the sense that i take what i need from it and discard the rest now...
     
  14. ddavidv
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    ddavidv Contributing Member

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    I absolutely envision my stories as movies in my head. Hell, I go so far as to pick the music for the opening and closing credits! I watch a lot of films, so it's no wonder that I think up my stories as film adaptations.

    The distancing thing is an interesting commentary, and one that I had not considered. Thanks, @T.Trian for bringing that to our attention.

    I don't tend to over-describe characters or settings, but I do sometimes find myself explaining character's movements through a scene too much. Is it really important to know they went from Room A to Room B to Chair C? Mostly, not-so-much. I need to trim it down to "Brandi finished in the kitchen and took a seat across from Tom next to the window". That's one thing I have to work on.
     
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  15. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    Me too. It actually helps a lot as it gives me the chance to play out different directions that the character goes in before deciding which one works before writing it down.

    And yes on the music front - I have specific playlists for each book! :oops:
     
  16. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I do the same thing. :D I even have imagined what images would show on the screen while the song's playing and the credits are rolling.

    I'm also guilty of over-explaining action, especially in fight scenes; it's a fine line between writing a detailed how-to manual and being so vague the reader doesn't know who's doing what to whom, but that's where being in the character's head helps a lot, since when you're actually in a fight, you get tunnel vision, you might be grappling, you could get hit in the head and end up punch-drunk, you may be running away from the bad guys etc, all things that severely limit your visibility/ability to observe your surroundings, so that should be reflected in the amount of details the reader sees.
     
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  17. john11
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    john11 Member

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    Write a let the words flow in whatever way works best for you. Some writers go to sleep with a notepad and write out their dreams as they believe that moment between waking up and fully conscious utilizes more of the brain, most famous for this are britany spears, janet jackson

    I like to write after a good walk, or exercise as the increased blood flow makes me feel more awake.
     
  18. Siena
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    Siena Active Member

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    Generally, I'd say that's a good thing.
     
  19. xanadu
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    xanadu Contributing Member Contributor

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    Visualizing the scene like a movie is not inherently a bad thing. I think most of us have a picture in our heads when we write, and we try to put that picture into words. It's only natural.

    However, there is a danger in transcribing what you see in your mind to the page. @EdFromNY, @Andrae Smith and @T.Trian are all exactly right--the last thing you want is for your novel/story to be a transcription of a movie. You don't want play-by-plays. Summaries are boring because the reader isn't involved. The reader should be in the shoes of the protagonist, not on the sidelines. That way the reader becomes part of the scene--living it vicariously through the character--and experiences the tension and emotions as if she/he were actually there. It's easy to summarize. It's a lot harder to make the reader feel something without explanation. But being able to do so is what makes the writing come alive and draw the reader in.

    In short, don't just describe the picture in your head. Make the reader not only see that same picture, but (more importantly) experience it. Lock tight on the character, show the scene through his or her POV, make the character (and consequently the reader) react to it, and the reader will have no choice but to turn the page.
     

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