“Stop watching TV and go read a book”, my dad used to say. Sounds familiar? As a parent or a teacher, you may have said something similar to your child or student. Many a time, parents do not like to see their children spend too much time watching movies/TV and would rather see them poring over literary classics, or even *GASP* reading model composition books to memorise compositions. With due credit, watching films can also help children to improve their writing ability. In any sense, screenwriters (professionals who write movies) are screenwriters because they are fantastic wordsmiths in the first place!
Note: While not all movies are exactly teaching material due to vulgarity, obscenities and other obvious reasons, a careful selection of films suitable for young children are in fact beneficial to unleash the creative writers in them. )
A well-written composition runs on a good plot just like a critically acclaimed film wins for its great storytelling. Kids can actually learn how to plot out a gripping story by basing their writing on a movie that has got them sitting on the edges of their seats. Start off by getting the kids to think about a film that they have recently watched and felt intrigued by it. Get them to think of how the story moved along from the start to the end. How were the main characters introduced? Where and when did the story take place? At which point of the film did they see a complication before it became a serious problem? How was the problem solved and what did the characters learn from it? How did the film end and did you, as a viewer, felt short-changed by it? Or were you yearning for the sequel already?
Show! Not tell!
There are students who love to start their compositions with a description of the setting and there are teachers who simply abhor this practice as many of the students use the same old template that they have memorised from model compositions! Memorising is absolutely boring! Instead, watch a film and see how the cinematographer has framed that important sunset or rainy weather to create the mood (Watch: Intro scene of the African grassland in The Lion King). Pay attention to how the camera moved and panned out during that scene. Subsequently, try to express the images of that scene in words on paper. In short, watch the film, feel the emotions, and describe in words.
Giving Life to your Characters
Have you ever watched a closeup of an actor in a film and seen how he expresses the emotions within him? Or did the director just show a screenshot of a man with the words “He was sad” in the captions? That’s my point! To give life to a character in your writing, you have to devote words for description– be it for facial expression, physical actions or speech. (The film Inside Out is best for illustrating characters who exemplify various emotions!)
Some of the most memorable films in history combine the elements of great storytelling, visually-compelling images of scenery and/or characters and giving sufficient depth to the characters. (This compilation of 25 best quotes from Forest Gump sums it all up!) This can also be achieved in compositions. Although there is a limit on word count and time allocated (especially during examinations) , one can still utilise the elements aforementioned to achieve the desired effect in writing. Go for quality and efficient description of key scenes and characters (mainly the protagonist) in your compositions.
In summary, allow kids to watch age-appropriate films, learn and then practise the tricks of cinematic storytelling.