Friday, May 29, 2015

Why overly structured writing doesn't work πŸ’»

One of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time was Boyhood – a movie centered on a young boy’s life, from age 6 to 18. You’ve probably heard of it because it won a few awards, including an Oscar.


Boyhood, unlike most movies we are used to watching, isn’t full of intense drama, shocking surprises lurking at each corner or insane tragedies. In other words, it is kind of like real life. There are ups and downs, mistakes made, lessons learned and generally, it is simply a coming of age movie that focuses on a boy named Mason and filmed over a series of years.

What I love about this movie is how it was put together.  My understanding is that it started with basic plot points, but essentially the director/writer (Richard Linklater) wrote it from year to year. You can tell too because the movie has a very natural flow; nothing is forced or uncomfortable.

As a writer, I was always brought up to believe that you had to have a well constructed plan created before you even thought of writing the first page of a book. You needed to create characters and have them all figured out well in advance. You needed to know all the details before writing the first chapter. You needed to know the ending before you started.

Of course, I’ve since learned that this is completely wrong. Overly structured writing – just as with an overly structured life – doesn’t really work. It’s awkward, it is uncomfortable, and it’s not fun. The characters create themselves, regardless of how hard you may try to force them in a specific direction, as do their storylines and really, that’s what makes the entire process magical and exciting.

Another lesson we learn from Boyhood is that life sometimes isn’t full of horrifying surprises and insane twists and turns. Many movies and television shows lead us to believe that every alcohol induced evening leads to a tragic or regrettable action or that teenagers who participate in ‘reckless behavior’ will suffer the consequences.  This is one of the few movies that consists of surprisingly little drama and I got to tell you, it’s kind of refreshing. I think sometimes we believe that every ‘good’ story should be over the top, thrilling and dangerous (hey, I’m guilty as much as the next writer) but why is that and realistically, don’t we see enough of that in the real world without having it in all our entertainment as well? Sometimes simple is best.It’s something to consider.





Canadian author Mima is known for her complicated and diverse characters, a dark style and for never shying away from controversial topics. To request an interview or if you are interested in doing a book review, please send requests here


Mima is the author of Fire and the prequel, A Spark before the Fire, as well as The Rock Star of Vampires  Her Name is Mariah and Different Shades of the Same Color. Join Mima on Facebook, TwitterG+ and Goodreads also, check out her Amazon Author Page

For some reading, check out her blogs – personal or writing


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