Andromeda/Your Turn: What can writers learn from the Oscars?

“Did I really earn this or I did just wear you all down?” That was Sandra Bullock accepting her Oscar for best actress — a wonderful surprise for an actress better known for her light roles and even some bombs.

I love hearing about the success of someone who has been written off by others. Since writing is 90% persistence, I relish the idea that people who have persisted and stretched and survived ultimately get noticed at the highest levels. (Jeff Bridges, another Oscar winner, fits this category, too.)

That’s one lesson we can learn from the Oscars. Another might be: story is character. I mean, look at the winners, especially the best picture, “The Hurt Locker.” Think what you will about Hollywood’s tastes and politics, every year we are shown that good pictures do float to the top. And what makes a movie great, in the end? Character! Even in a high-tech world where every possible special effect can be made (and yes, I did find Avatar entertaining), it’s still character that pulls us into a movie — or novel, or memoir, or other written work.

If you’ve seen The Hurt Locker, think about some of the other great craft-of-writing lessons in that movie. We aren’t told much about the main character. It’s nearly all show, little tell. When our hero finally returns home, that home life is shown briefly and sparely — a great scene in a grocery story, no exposition that I can recall — and then we return to the original setting and character issues. (I’m being rather unspecific here because I don’t want to give away anything, given how few people have seen this movie but will rush to see it soon.) It’s lean, smart storytelling in a movie that could have been just dumb action. But if it were pure action, it wouldn’t have won that well-deserved Oscar.

What other writing lessons or inspirations do you take from the Oscars?

2 thoughts on “Andromeda/Your Turn: What can writers learn from the Oscars?”

  1. Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire

    (best supporting actress oscar)

    While the title of the movie is "Precious" the book author/book title was given mention as noted above in every interview about the movie, every advertisement etc..I've never seen this before and always wondered why the book that so many movies are based on were never mentioned. The author, Sapphire, was smart, or had a smart agent, or something worked right here.

    Maybe it should be a contract staple when a book is made into a movie – the author gets top billing too.

    It was nice to see.

  2. Andromeda Romano-Lax

    Oooh, good point. I hadn't thought about that. This is a nice thing to see and I wonder how it was negotiated and what it says about the best way to deal with Hollywood.

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