Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Eight Things Writers Can Learn From Tron Legacy

I went to Tron Legacy with friends last night, for the yearly Do Something Before Christmas event. It was an enjoyable film. Not the worst I've ever seen, but definitely not the best either. Pretty standard Hollywood action movie fare. That said, three things really made the film for me: the peanut gallery of young men behind us; the fact that it was shot locally and I could ID a number of buildings; and the fact that the plot was so average it allowed me to notice the writing and storytelling. So here's what I think we can all take away from Tron Legacy, along with a pseudo-review and some possible vague spoilers.
  1. Predictable stories aren't really a good thing. When your audience can identify the ending (or love interest, or number of fight scenes) within the first five minutes, you can do better.
  2. You can (mostly) get away with a really predictable story if you have lots of shiny. For instance, neon lights on everything, and explosions.
  3. Women are not just sex symbols. Dressing them in skintight outfits and giving them monosyllabic lines does not characterization make. Plus you'll get a lot of feminists angry.
  4. It's possible for a minor character to steal the show. Try not to let this happen. Minor characters should be awesome, but no more so than your main characters.
  5. Setting is important and can make or break the story. Setting should have mood and a specific kind of look, both of which play into the plot and the action of the scene. Neon lights in darkness is good, because it's iconic and shows good vs. evil well, but generic street scenes add nothing to anything. Especially when the audience is left wondering which city those streets are meant to be in.
  6. Try not to be obvious or over the top about your religious metaphors. It's fine to have them, but when a character is portrayed as peaceful and kind, resist the desire to have him raise his arms as if crucified or to shine white light on him.
  7. Exposition should not be obvious. The main purpose of a scene should not be to give the main characters information they need (or if it is, you need to have other things going on to distract the audience).
  8. Resist the trend. Just because everyone else is writing a vampire novel (or has zombies, or 3D graphics), doesn't mean you also have to. There's a good chance it'll cheapen your story.

1 comment:

Batman said...

I disagree with number 6. If you do it right, it could work. And it would seem that you're laying your own assumptions on the scene that was shot. There may be other interpretations.