So the other day I walked into my living room and the T.V. was on with the sound off. There was a movie on. I think it might have been a new version of The Hulk or something. My sister has a fetish for what I call man movies. Give me a chick flick any day. But I digress. Just as I was about to turn the volume up and change the channel, I began to notice that observing the actors without sound was pretty interesting. I’ve mentioned before how important it is as a writer to be aware of the world around you. After a couple of seconds of watching, I was fascinated by how much the actors conveyed with their body language, facial expressions and the use of props.
Then it hit me: watching the movie without sound was a great way to help improve my descriptive writing skills! I love words. Duh, that’s a given for any writer. However, my love for words causes me to pay more attention to dialogue than action while watching T.V. This also manifests in my fictional writing. I can be really heavy with the dialogue and character introspection. This leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to describing setting and character action.
As I sat there watching my own version of a silent film, I noticed the way the actors broke eye contact when under pressure. That they shifted their bodies away from whomever was speaking when they were angry. Their skin flushed, lips trembled, fists clenched. They would dishevel their hair, flail their arms, sit on the edge of their seat. They reclined in satisfaction or pushed their shoulders back in determination.
And omg, the settings! From over cluttered messy shoebox apartments to the closed interior of a truck cab, the places where the actors had the conversations said as much about what was happening as what the actors actually said. The setting did much to ‘set’ the mood for the scene.
Now, I know for some of you this may be Writing 101 material. But for me, I was ecstatic to find an exercise for helping to make my descriptive writing better. Sometimes a wordsmith just needs to ignore words for a while in order to become a better wordsmith!
What are some of your favorite tips or exercises to help improve your writing?
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