Watch Bad Movies to Improve Your Craft

Bear with me.

So the other night the husband and I watched Kick-Ass 2. While the third act is pretty cool action scene, the movie overall isn’t great. I watched it mostly because I loved the original Kick-Ass so much. As I lay in bed (and honestly, again the next day) I kept thinking things like, “you know, if they had cut out the X storyline and made the Z storyline that felt tacked on into the main storyline, it would have been much better and would have nodded to comic-book tropes, too” and “or they could have made Kick-Ass the main character and Hit Girl the protagonist, like they did in in the new Mad Max,” that sort of thing.

My writer brain wanted to make the story better. My writer brain recognized what wasn’t working in the story and thought of ways to strengthen it.

We storytellers usually talk about how reading good writing will help make your writing better, and that’s true. One should definitely spend the bulk of one’s time consuming good story. However, there is something to be said for reading/watching/experiencing a subpar story so you can recognize it when you see it and think of ways to make it better.

Come to think of it, that’s good advice for editors, too.

1 Comment

Filed under editing, writing

One response to “Watch Bad Movies to Improve Your Craft

  1. pbrewer

    I have long thought that bad (and especially mediocre) stories are easier to learn from than excellent stories, but for kind of the opposite reason.

    A perfectly crafted story is kind of like a masterfully done magic trick: You can see it’s magic, but you can’t see how the magic is done.

    A less-perfectly crafted story often has one thing (or a few things) done very well, but with the cracks and joins in the rest of the structure, it’s a lot easier to see how the well-done bit was put together.

    Sure, take apart the poorly done bits and imagine how they could be done better. But also take the opportunity to observe the well-done bit in isolation. That’s your opportunity to see how its done, giving you a chance to do it yourself.

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