Do you see your story as a movie in your head?

Whenever I plan out a scene, whether it be for my novel, a short story, a role-play, or any other form of creative writing, I feel as if I am watching a movie in my mind’s eye. I see my characters—their facial expressions, their body language—and I can hear their voices. I see camera angles, where the scene would be shot had this been an actual movie. I see the landscape, I see the details.

Sometimes, it feels like I am writing the novel adaptation of the movie playing out in my mind’s eye.

I wonder if this is the way other writers see their work. I will be the first one to admit that my writing lacks…shall we say, grace. I do not enjoy playing with words as much as I enjoy seeing the scene in my mind. I do hear dialogue in my head, and it tends to be pretty snappy, but that’s the closest I get to planning my writing.

When I sit down to write, I try to recall the details I had seen in my mind. This is where my struggle begins. I struggle to paint the picture I see in my mind in words. I have a decent vocabulary, but I find myself using the same words more often than not. After all, anger is still anger, no matter the word you use for it.

I have been told my writing lacks details, and I completely agree. When I reread what I wrote, I find myself in one of two positions. I either recall the movie I had seen in my mind when I wrote the scene, or I find myself struggling to see the picture I had painted. Fortunately, while never perfect, I have a pretty decent idea of what aspects of my writing are unclear and what is when I reread it. Oftentimes, my edits feel like a fleshing out of details that were always in my mind, just not in the page.

I admire books that are able to paint a picture in your mind but do so in a way that does not hamper pace. The books that know exactly where they want to place the reader’s attention, do so with only a few words, and move onto the next bit. I’ve read works by others that include not only too many details, but details in the wrong spot. They focus on something that isn’t relevant to the scene, or doesn’t have any interest for me as a reader.

It’s an interesting thing to read.

I wonder if other writers view their works as films in their minds when they plan it out. Or if they see their sentences materialize in front of them. Or, if they do little planning at all and sit down with a blank mind and see what conjures up.

In my previous blog, I mentioned writing my the seat of my pants. That is still true, though I still like to see a bit of the film in my mind’s eye the night before as I fall asleep. I guess that counts as planning?

This is a bit more rambling than I would have liked, but that’s what happens when you try to focus on a half-formed thought.

Do any of you, fellow writers, see your work as a film in your mind? Do you see sentences dancing in front of you? What does your planning process look like?

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2 thoughts on “Do you see your story as a movie in your head?

  1. I always see my stories as movies. Well, actually, more like a collection of movie scenes, complete with dialogue, special effects and even soundtrack. I can’t write a scene, especially an action scene, until I have a very good image of what is happening to everyone at any particular moment of that scene.

    And just like you experienced, translating that image from your mind onto the paper is the most frustrating part about being a writer. It’s never as clear, precise or beautiful as it was in your head. Sometimes I struggle with a scene for hours, until I want to throw my computer out of the window and bang my head on the wall (never a good solution by the way). I learned to just put it down like it is and move on. That’s what editing is for.

  2. I definitely visualize the story in my head while I’m writing. If I don’t, I know I haven’t done enough planning, or that the scene isn’t inspiring me. If I’m interested in my writing, the movie-scene, as you point out, just pops up. Like magic.

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