One of the hardest parts of being a writer – at least in my opinion – is turning it off. I love movies which actually can surprise me. It’s a rare plot twist that I don’t catch – even on the first pass of a movie. It’s why Unbreakable has a special place in my heart. It was the first MKS film I ever saw and that twist! Oh that twist actually got me! (I was also still a teen and just getting into words like “plot” and “twist” in writing).
I’ve had to learn to try to turn off the plot-planner when I’m reading books or watching movies. More than one book has disgusted me because I figured it out and there wasn’t anything left to keep me reading. Some books are just a fun-enough-romp-through-adventure that I don’t care if I know what’s coming. In some ways I want to know what’s coming! Seeing how this writer has this character handle this plot keeps me involved.
It’s harder with movies. They are so short and fast-paced that there often isn’t enough character development (especially with multi-character casts) to draw me in enough to overcome the predictable plots. I don’t want to say movies are predictable simply because I’m a writer. I am saying that being a writer has made it harder for movies to surprise me, my brain is going “I would have added that comment as foreshadowing” or “That poster seems out of place, I wonder why they picked it to frame the protagonist like that.”
So I have some coping mechanisms:
- Turn off and just enjoy the “experience” of loud noises and big booms (action movies) – which means the dumber the better
- Pick and character and flesh them out in my own head (and pray the script doesn’t try to throw on “development” in the last 1/3 of the movie)
- Turn my inner editor on and pick apart the dialog, directing, camerawork, etc.
If I hit number 3… I am usually unhappy I went to a movie theater for it. I’ve basically limited the movie theater for the “experience” – or to encourage Hollywood to make more movies like the one I’m watching.