Sometimes free courses are great. Sometimes they are missing a lot of important information. The last course I took on Screen Writing has left me feeling disappointed. When I look back at the PDFs, a lot of the information is a repeat of the week before and isn’t helpful to me in my quest of writing a movie. I feel like I would’ve spent my time better by reading Save the Cat. Even some of the sequence titles listed in that course are from Save the Cat. Maybe I’ll see if Chapters has a copy in town, so I can get back to my script. I’m feeling I lack knowledge of structure as movies require it more than novels do. Things are supposed to happen at specific times in a movie to ensure the audience enjoys the show. Blake Snyder called them beats.
I’ve not had this issue with free courses through Coursera as they are complete university courses and ensure they cover as much as they can in the time. That particular course may have been a marketing gimmick in part and I’m going to be more careful in my course selections in the future as a result.
I’ve noticed I’m preferring to write with a little more structure these days. I’ve noticed that outlining my current novel according to the Hero’s Journey is helping me know which parts go where and instead of just puking words all over the pages, the story is taking shape quicker. It’s not a formal outline like a school essay exactly. It’s a general guideline that helps me continue moving forward when I’m stuck and know where to plunk those scenes I may have written on my phone while waiting for a takeout order. It’s giving me a way to write that is a little faster but doesn’t impact super important things like my voice or the personalities of my characters.
Learning about movie writing is helping me write novels and vice versa.
I’ve also been watching a lot of movies lately to see what they do in terms of lighting, opening sequences, challenging the protagonist, etc. I’m also enjoying the cheesy dialogue and feel of 80s comedy horrors like Critters.
I’ve noticed I’m enjoying writing even more now that I’ve been working on my sewing projects. There’s a little less time where I can stare off at a blank screen without putting words on it and I think that is helping me have a sense of urgency. Maybe the key for me is to have writing as just one part of my workday rather than the whole thing. We’ll see what this means for my future.
Anyway, Chapters does have a couple of copies of the book. Between that and my new book on description and setting, I think I’m going to be flying through my novel and script pretty soon.