Sue May Warren

Big Screen/Your Scene

Craft Tips and Techniques from Today’s Blockbusters

P.S.. I Love You and the Art of Flashbacks

Gerard Butler as Irish pub-singing Gerry. The incredibly talented Hilary Swank as uptight American tourist Holly. A few precious moments with charming Denny, er Jeffery Dean Morgan, aka Denny, my favorite heart transplant patient from Grey’s Anatomy. What’s not to love? And I did love P.S. I Love You. Love, love, loved it. Cried my eyes out. My favorite line was “Let’s just go barefoot,”—a brilliant use of resonant metaphor in dialogue.

Aside from the many wonderful themes written into this screenplay, the movie also can eloquently teach us about effective use of flashbacks. Let’s take a look at how the screenwriter weaves in the backstory through flashbacks to draw out our emotions.

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Tosca Lee

Author By Night

Isn’t It Glamorous?

I’m writing this column midair from Milwaukee to LaGuardia. Note: I did not mean to go to Milwaukee. And I wasn’t sure I’d make it to LaGuardia. I was supposed to take off from Lincoln on Northwest. But I left from Omaha on Midwest. How these airlines with “west” in their names are supposed to get me east is beyond me. All I know is I was supposed to be there hours ago.

“Don’t you love it? Isn’t it glamorous?” people ask me when they hear what I do for a living.

As glamorous as B.O. As peeing at 35,000 feet in a bathroom the size of a value-sized coffin. As wanting to burn the clothes in your suitcase after wearing them every other day for a week. As glamorous as indigestion in a dingy, greasy-haired, eye-booger kind of way.

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Short Stories

The Thrill Of The Hunt

Susan Morris stared down at the phone, still warm from her hand, and dissolved into tears. She heard Jon striding toward the kitchen and dried her face with the dishtowel on her shoulder, knowing full well she wouldn’t fool him.

Jon’s eyes widened. He was carrying Kiley, ready for bed in her Veggie Tales pajamas. “Who was that? Is it your dad again?”

“It was Marissa.”

“Marissa? She hasn’t called in months! What happened?”

Trouble With True Love

Trouble always seemed to follow Miss Isabella deLancie with dogged determination. Tonight was no exception. Although she’d been invited to the Earl of Kenneway’s spring soiree with the express purpose to meet her future husband, she had vowed to make an early escape. However, her stubborn grandmamma thwarted her plans by catching her just as she’d taken a step over the balcony, denying her the opportunity to shimmy down the trellis unseen.

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A Cut Above by Ginny Aiken
Brandilyn Collins

Making A Scene

Story Resolution-Part III

As I’ve noted in my previous articles on this subject, in my suspense novels I want to push the action of the crisis/climax as close to the end of the book as possible. Too long of a resolution is going to drag out the book. And I’ll tell you, even a bang-up book, if it drags in the end, will leave the reader unsatisfied. You gotta leave ’em with a bang. And yet, by definition, a resolution is hardly the biggest bang of the story. Hence the challenge to write a satisfying one.

Recently I read a well-written suspense that disappointed me in the end. The crisis/climax took place a good four or so chapters before the end of the book. Those final chapters were all pure resolution in various parts of the main character’s life. No conflict, just tying up loose ends. It was boring.

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Mary DeMuth

Write Real

What Mara Taught Me

It’s never easy when you read the single-spaced, multi-paged letter from your editor telling you what changes you need to make to your manuscript, especially the first time. I guess you could say I was a substantive-edit-letter virgin. But the thing my editor said that really struck me and knocked me on my backside was this: My main character (Mara in Watching the Tree Limbs) was not responding emotionally to the trauma she was enduring.

Of course she was! She was being normal. Everyone knows that when little kids are traumatized, they often shut down, not displaying appropriate emotions. But as I wrestled with my editor’s right-on observation, I started to understand something.

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For Writers

Michelle Moran

Sex Sells...But Is It Necessary?

When I first began writing my debut novel Nefertiti several years ago, I was working as high school teacher in California. Partly because this was a public high school, it was not at all unusual to see girls draped over their boyfriends like scarves, hanging on them before, during and after school. Many young girls came dressed in skirts so short that no matter which way they would cross their legs, it was still possible to see what color underwear they had chosen for the day.

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