Learning novel structure through film

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In the summer I was gutted to miss a workshop on novel structure. Sadly it was too far away and clashed with my son’s birthday party so no matter how hard I stared at the train timetables I was never going to make it happen.

The workshop was with an Alexandra Sokoloff – a Hollywood screenwriter and novelist – and it was about applying some of the techniques from films to novels. It all sounded brilliant and the bit that really had me hooked was that she was also going to explain it all with the help of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

Now I’m quite a visual person and this was the bit that I wanted to see the most. It’s a film I know well having watched it countless times with my children so exploring structure by watching that would, I thought, be a really helpful experience.

I was very interested to read some of the social media chatter about the workshop afterwards. Everybody was raving about it and one very helpful person mentioned that Alexandra had a book that her workshops were based upon. (Here’s a link to it on Amazon if you want to have a look:Screenwriting Tricks for Authors (and Screenwriters!): STEALING HOLLYWOOD: Story structure secrets for writing your BEST book: Volume 3)  and not only that, that there were film/story breakdowns in the back of it.

I ordered that book as fast as my fingers could type.

Now this post isn’t a review of the book as such as I have barely read it. It looks good and I intend to read it in a couple of months when my workload has died down. However, I fast forwarded to the end of the book and settled down with a cuppa, the Harry Potter DVD, my remote control, a notebook and the book.

It was two hours well spent. (Actually it was more like five as I stopped and started and thought about it in relation to my story and made notes).

She talks about structure, theme, genre conventions and so much more.

Perfect for me writing an MG fantasy story.

But don’t worry if you’re writing something else. She does story breakdowns for many different genres. From Romancing the Stone to Sense and Sensibility.

If you want to get your head around structure and like learning more about this business of writing a novel then I really recommend taking a look at this one.

If you want to “Look Inside” or buy a copy – just click on the image below and it will take you straight through to Amazon.

If you do buy it I hope you find it useful and do let me know what you think either in the comments below or on twitter @journalistfran.

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