Apr 20, 2010

What we can learn about writing from...Polanski's The Ghost Writer

I liked this movie really a lot. I'm afraid of sounding like the NYT reviewer and going all hopelessly giddy over what on the surface is just an inane political thriller just because it's so nice to see something that's made by somebody who knows what they're doing and doesn't cut around so much that it makes you nauseous.

So, what can we take from this film?

1. People actually can mature as artists and get better and more subtle with age.

2. No matter how unremarkable your subject matter, presentation and style can make it fascinating. (The inverse of the Burton situation, come to think of it!)

3. Reinforce the emotional state you're trying to invoke in your audience. If it's suspense, make everything a little unsettling. If it's joy, get sunny little elements going. A lot of tiny, subtle things have a bigger impact than a big obvious thing. If you don't know what emotional state you're trying to evoke with a scene...consider that your audience may not either, and that often leaves them in various states of confusion, disconnection, or most likely, boredom.

4. Know what you're doing. Everything in your story has significance, and if you're just throwing words in there to fill space, that will translate into a story with less impact. Unless, you know, you get the monkeys-throwing-poo-at-the-wall effect and accidentally create something that resonates with the masses *coughTwilightGrishamDavincicodeCOUGH*

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