Thursday, August 1, 2013


What I Learned About Writing From Watching Supernatural
I've been a pretty good dialogue writer for a while, but I've been weaker on description. Not static description, like for a room, but descriptions of character body language and all the non-verbals that go into good dialogue and character interaction.
It's curious that I haven't been good at it. In my day job, I'm a life and business coach. Watching body language is part of my training, but I finally figured out why that didn't translate to good writing. When I'm coaching, I'm using more of my intuition. I'm not stopping to break down body language with an eye toward describing it in my writing.
Which is when I discovered Supernatural. If you've never watched it, you can probably guess the idea from the title. A couple of young guys ride around the country, dealing with supernatural menace. The early seasons follow a "monster of the week" format, while later seasons get more into long story arcs.
Yes, it's genre fiction. But it's genre fiction with some actors who know how to use their body and faces to communicate a lot of sub-text.
Heck, you don't even need to know what's going on. You could make up an entire story, just from that short clip. From the turn, to the facial expression to the hand motion. Lots there to work with.
Or this scene. Three actors doing a lot with their facial expressions (and one of my favorite scenes in the show).
What made me sit up and take notice was realizing I could watch scenes and dissect them. That's why I like all the animated .gifs I can find on Tumblr. Sometimes not having dialogue helps. I can watch facial expressions and hand movements and decide how I'd describe them. I've learned things about eye contact that completely altered a scene. I knew a character was nervous, and in the original draft, I talked about how she was nervous. In the rewrite, I showed it by describing how she avoided eye contact and casual touching. When she finally met another character's eyes, you knew it meant something.
I do all my writing on my iPad, and I've actually downloaded some Supernatural clips from YouTube. When I get stuck on writing a scene, I load one of the clips and watch the actors do their job. Which inspires me to do mine even better.
What do you use for descriptive inspiration?
Thank you Juli and we can't wait to see you at the confernece; Check out her website here: