Posted by Angelica R. Jackson
I once had a conversation with a friend where we were discussing a movie that we'd both liked (the Matrix), but she liked it much better than I did. I really loved elements of the scenery and the premise, but there were glaring plot holes and inconsistencies that pulled me out of the story.
My friend got really annoyed and ranted, "Can't you watch the movie without analyzing it to death, and just have fun?"
There was this awkward silence, and then I laughed and said, "But analyzing it to death is fun for me!"
As a writer and photographer, it's always been really hard to turn off the editor in my brain while I'm reading a book or watching a movie. I fought that tendency for a while, until I realized that it's a really good skill to have. Even while I'm caught up in the story, there's a little Hermes (from Futurama) inside me filing away all the things that worked (and didn't work) for future reference:
And now I've found a writing book that really taps into that habit: Screenwriting Tricks For Authors (and Screenwriters!)by Alexandra Sokoloff
It's full of great tips on crafting characters, plot, etc, and includes fun exercises. You know, my kind of fun, like making a list of your favorite ten antagonists in books or films (she uses films as examples just as often as she uses books), and then thinking about what made you connect to those characters. Not only does it help you find instances where antagonists are done well, it gives you insights into why you might be writing the antagonists that you've put into your stories.
She says, "You need to create your list, and break those stories down to see why they have such an impact on you - because that's the kind of impact that you want to have on your readers. . .there will also always be a few stories on your list that have nothing to do with your dominant genre, some complete surprises, and those wild cards are sometimes the most useful for you to analyze structurally. Always trust something that pops into your head as belonging on your list. The list tells you who you are as a writer. What you are really listing are your secret thematic preferences. You can learn volumes from these lists if you are willing to go deep."
So if you're willing to go deep, check out her book, and its companion, Writing Love. They're on Amazon and Barnes and Noble in ebook form for only $2.99.