Sunday, May 06, 2007

Show and Tell, Learning from Cinema

For the past several months I've been hanging out on screenwriting blogs and slowly absorbing a new skillset. Mystery Man, The Unknown Screenwriter, MaryAn Batchellor, Laura Deerfield and Billy Mernit, among many others, have archives of film writing knowledge and analysis that're incredibly informative and free for the pickin'. I'd advise novelists to study them to learn how to write more visually.

After watching Nosferatu, a 1922 silent film and, I believe, the first cinematic telling of Dracula, I realized the whole story was shown through the use of body language, music and a few written snippets. It intrigued me. Could I write a book with no dialogue? Could I employ body language and expression to tell a complete story? Probably not in novel format. But, I could use these aspects more than I already do. Body language, props, scene settings and tone (music) help show thought and emotion, engage all the reader's senses, and make a story spring to memorable, artistic life.

In particular, there was an overly-long scene of the death and devastation occurring in Bremen once Nosferatu had arrived. I grew bored and wondered why the scene wasn't trimmed. In retrospect, however, I realized that without one word, it depicted Nina's experiences, circumstances, and what brought her to the wrenching decision to sacrifice her life for her townspeople. This decision would've seemed rushed, melodramatic and too-stupid-to-live if that scene had been abbreviated.

As Nosferatu and, I'm sure, many silent films prove, words are but a tiny part of a huge arsenal of communication tools at our disposal. As writers, we should be digging in that tool box regularly.

Hey, wadda ya know. I learned something. Now I just need to apply it.

Thanks guys!

4 Comments:

Blogger Mystery Man said...

If you're just trying to stroke my jovial ego... well... it worked.

Hehehe...

-MM

May 08, 2007 5:44 PM  
Blogger Ann Wesley Hardin said...

MM, if you have anything else that needs stroking, you just holler. K?

May 09, 2007 5:35 AM  
Blogger Script Demon said...

Ann, I'd like to link back to this post for my next blog entry. Is that ok?
Vince

May 17, 2007 9:27 AM  
Blogger Ann Wesley Hardin said...

Hey Vince, I'd be honored! Thanks for all your wonderful comments. I appreciate them greatly!

May 17, 2007 9:39 PM  

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