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Watching Movies isn’t a Waste of Time…

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I should add two words to the title of this post and that’s for writers.

Sometimes I know I should be writing but instead I’m searching Netflix and soon I’m watching a movie and time slips away.

However, last month I took a different view of time spent away from my writing. I was watching this one movie and a thought struck me…well, let me back up a bit here.

The movie in question was Locke starting Tom Hardy. I thought it was going to be a sort of cat and mouse chase storyline but it wasn’t. No, no, no, it was so much better than that. The whole thing was a simple plot but it had everything within it that I try and teach my students. Some of them might even tell you I hit them over the head with it.

Here’s what I share with them…

Introduce a character on the worst day or his or her life.

Make them likeable and make them the sort of person you want to cheer on. However, don’t make them all good or all bad or they won’t come across as lifelike.

Make it clear what their goal is and what’s stopping them from attaining it.

Keep escalating the conflict. Don’t let up, keep the reader guessing and hungry to find out what happens next for this character.

Locke hit all those must dos and the amazing thing is this was such a simple plotline but I was hooked from the opening scene

I won’t include spoilers but let’s just say this movie has only one character on screen the whole time (the movie runs one hour and 24 mins). All the other characters are voice only as they communicate with the main character Locke played by Tom Hardy who’s  in a car driving from Birmingham to London at night. He’s done something wrong but he’s trying to put it right. In fact, by doing so he’s going to lose it all, family and job. Things just keep getting worse for him as he closes in on London. One call after another is adding to his demise but you’re cheering him on hoping his fortune changes. In fact, I was so hooked on this character I wanted to know what happened to him after the movie ended… that’s great writing, and also brilliant acting by Tom Hardy…I’m now a huge fan!

We, writers can learn a lot from watching movies…okay, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it.

Next time you watch one, see how and if it hits all the above criteria and if it doesn’t why not, and what you would do to fix it.

Oh, and if you’re a Netflix subscriber and you haven’t seen Locke, check it out. It might not be a super hero, guns drawn, car chase type of movie but I’m guessing you’ll enjoy it as much as I did. The writer in me really appreciated it.

Writing How Tos Writing Tips

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