Hollywood, California is the home of the famous American movie studios. Hollywood was founded in 1886 by H.J. Whitley, a businessman and real estate developer who is known as the “Father of Hollywood.”
Some of the best and most known movie studios are located in Hollywood including Columbia Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Walt Disney Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures, and Universal Pictures. These big five film studios distribute hundreds of films every year globally.
Essential writing lessons you can learn from Hollywood
You can learn a lot from Hollywood. Actually, you can learn two essential writing lessons.
- How to be interesting
- How to tell great stories
Let’s dive into these two topics, so you can steal great ideas from Hollywood and become a better writer.
1. How to be interesting
No one is going to read your writing unless they find your stories interesting. You need to communicate in your writing what others can’t. As writers, we have mastered how to take ideas from our brains and write them down into stories. We forget this process is hard for some people. Eloquently writing down your ideas helps make you valuable as a writer.
Hollywood sells tons of movies because they can communicate what others are trying to say. That’s why we turn to movies, art, and entertainment. Movies communicate what we are trying to say, but we can’t. As a writer, you need to communicate what others are thinking about but not writing about.
Another way to be interesting is to take a cue from Hollywood on developing an idea that is surprising. Sometimes big film studios create and distribute films that are unexpected. They do this so people will stop and pay attention. To set yourself apart from other writers, surprise your readers with different ideas.
Make them laugh
Another way to be interesting is to make people laugh. Comedy is a series of mini stories with surprise endings that make people smile and laugh. Comedy is entertainment with funny content. When you add humor, you’ll get your audience to pay attention.
Another secret that you can learn from Hollywood is that sex sells. Ever noticed the movies feature scantily clad women? Why do they do it? Because it works. It draws the attention of men and women.
Determine how much “skin” you are going to show with your writing. Maybe you are willing to talk about old boyfriends or girlfriends, but you won’t talk about your family, especially your children.
Draw your line with your writing on what you feel comfortable sharing. If you are worried about sharing too many personal details, you can use a pseudonym like Woody Allen (Allan Stewart Konigsberg), Billie Holiday (Eleanora Fagan), and Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens).
2. Storytelling structure
To learn how to tell great stories, understand the common storytelling structure. In 1863, German playwright and novelist Gustav Freytag wrote Die Technik des Dramas about the 5-act dramatic structure. It’s an analysis of ancient and classic dramas, and it says that stories have a common structure with five stages of action.
This storytelling structure is known as Freytag’s pyramid. The five stages are exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. Let’s examine each one.
The first act is called exposition. It sets the scene. It’s where a writer identifies the main characters, their relationships, and what type of world they live in. It’s the background information about events that happened before the story began. Simply, if you have seen any of the Star Wars movies, it’s opening crawl of the rolling yellow sentences.
The second act is rising action. This is the part that builds tension. Rising action is where the main characters can’t resolve their problems. Why? Because they don’t have the skills, or the characters are not in the right state of mind to overcome their challenges.
The biggest part of a story is the rising action part. In the story of Little Red Riding Hood, the rising action is everything in the story that takes place before Little Red Riding Hood meets the Big Bad Wolf.
The climax is the turning point of the story. It’s the highest point of tension. The climax is the time when the action turns into the solution. It’s where things come to a point where a decision or action happens that determines what comes next. For example, Jack works hard to try out for the football team at school. The coach posts a list of the team members and Jack heads to look at the list.
This is the part of the story that ties up loose ends. The falling action is where the tension decreases, and the story moves toward a conclusion. For example, it’s like after Cinderella tries on the slipper and it fits. It’s all the action that leads to their wedding and living happily ever after.
This is how the story ends. Questions are answered. Problems are solved. The characters gain a new sense of themselves. It’s the ending of the story. It’s the point of the story where people remember all the challenges and difficulties that led them to this resolution.
The storytelling structure is how one tells a riveting story. It’s how Hollywood organizes its plot line or story line. It’s the framework for the story. When you organize your stories, you can tell a compelling story that your readers will want to read all the way through to the end.
Essential writing lessons: bringing it all together
By understanding these key elements of storytelling and how to be interesting, you’ll draw your audience in and drive them to take action. Hollywood has learned how to tell a great story. They create movies that show how people overcame challenges or difficulties to be successful. You can steal a lot from Hollywood, learn essential writing lessons, and become a better writer.