I love listening to podcasts and they are great for improving your writing. I have written about listening and using a series like Serial before. It is a must-listen for crime writers. It’s fascinating to hear how she breaks down the investigation and pulls apart the old case.
After I listened to Serial I was desperate for another podcast to keep me occupied and I came across The Black List Table Reads which “takes the best screenplays Hollywood hasn’t yet made and turns them into movies… for your ears.” It’s as cool as it sounds. They use great sound effects and awesomely talented voice artists.
Now, why would you need to listen to movies as a fiction writer?
- Show, don’t tell. Movies are the ultimate show, don’t tell. There is no internal thought for movie characters, their actions have to show us how they are feeling and why they act the way they do. When you listen to The Black List Table Reads you realise the importance of using strong verbs. When you listen to a movie there is no image to show you how the character walks and behaves.
Words like saunter, stride and shuffle make all the difference. It is amazing how they can paint a picture.
- Dialogue. The taped interviews in Serial are an amazing source of ‘raw’ dialogue and serves as an excellent example of why dialogue should not sound like real people talking, but should sound like well, dialogue. The Black List Table Reads however is an example of what dialogue should sound like. It’s amazing to compare the two.
- Description. Once again, when a script is being read there is no image and the description can’t get in the way of the story. The writers use short, specific descriptions to get us in the scene as quickly as possible. Are your descriptions bogging down your story? Also, you should listen to the different voices and sounds, how would you describe it if you had to write that voice or sound. It opens up a whole new way of thinking about description.
Writing a movie and writing a book are two different things, but a story is a story and we can learn from all kinds of writers. The Black List Table Reads also interviews the writers about everything from the writing process to the business side of the writing. Lots to learn.
Happy listening and happy writing.
PS: I am looking for new podcasts to listen to, so if you know of one please leave a comment.
by Mia Botha
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