Tuesday, February 19, 2013

I'm in a Mood & It's Not PMS

Whenever a woman says she's in a mood, half the men in the room perk up. The other half back away slowly with panicked smiles and whole lottta "Yes, Ma'ams."

It's an amazing power we wield. Really, it is.

Yesterday, James talked about using the five senses to construct the mood. On Sunday, Jeffe wrote about consciously using the smallest detail to convey the mood. They've told you how to do it. Being the ever so helpful whore I am, I'm here to help you apply those lessons to your own writing.

Here is an exercise to help you translate what you imagine into words.

What You'll Need:
1) TV 
What? I'm serious. This is very difficult homework. Yes, you can watch on your preferred device. No, a movie theater isn't the best forum. People get pissy when you scream, "STOP."

2) Remote for said TV
Remember that thing about stop? Yeah.

3) Paper and Pen
Rockin' it old school folks. Yes, yes, yes, you can use something that requires batteries, but make sure it's not the same device as the one you are afixin' to watch.

The Exercises 
1) Pick Five Shows from Different Genres -- movies or TV doesn't matter
note: this part is more fun when someone else picks the shows and you have no clue what you're watching in advance
2) Watch the first minute of the first show
3) Hit pause
4) Based on what you've just seen on screen, answer the following prompts (Bonus points if you use each of the five senses to construct your answers):
  • How were all five of your senses engaged? (I know there's no smell-o-vision yet, you should still have an answer for the olfactory sense.)
  • Describe the setting in five words or less.
  • Describe each character in five words or less.  
  • Describe the plot in ten words or less. 
  • Describe the mood in five words or less.
  • What are the genre and sub genres of the show? How do you know?
5) Resume watching the show. Stop after five minutes. Have any of your answers to the above questions changed? How? Why?
6) Repeat with each of the shows you've selected
It's important that you actually write down the answers. It forces you to put words to what your brain simply knows and/or assumes. If you want to make the exercise more complex, use complete sentences -- narrative -- to answer those questions. Limit five sentences per answer.

This exercise is fun to do with friends because answers will vary (especially if booze is involved). It's also fun to mix up introductory scenes and climatic scenes. Though, I recommend you not do this with folks who are uninterested in craft of storytelling, as it might get you lynched.

If you need some idea for shows try these:
The Americans (on FX), American Horror Story, Mad Men, The Arrow, Supernatural, Necessary Roughness, Downton Abby, Poirot, any of the Sherlocks, Two Broke Girls, Dr. Who, Mi5

Give it a go. Let us know if there's any one element of a show that really solidified the mood for you.

1 comment:

  1. What a great exercise! Now I totally want to try this...