Monday, June 9, 2014

Writing Lessons from Maleficent


So I went to a movie with my daughter yesterday. Sleeping Beauty was my FAVORITE Disney movie, so when my daughter was little, she got a giant dose of it, too. Now she is 19 and a few weeks ago when we went to Divergent they played a Maleficent preview. My son was unmoved, but Thing One and I thought it looked AWESOME.

And it was. But in addition to just being an excellent movie, is seems to me there are some excellent writing lessons in it. So here we go.


The Bad Guy is not the Bad Guy to the Bad Guy

Seems simple enough, right? But I think it is easy to draw them as just rotten. This movie did and excellent job of showing what BROUGHT the villain to that point—making that point of evil act not just understandable, but TRAGIC. Without getting too spoilery, Maleficent was a GOOD fairy... who was BADLY betrayed.


The Good Guy doesn't necessarily STAY the Good Guy

People can have more than one primary motivation and it can cause them to behave in ways that break our hearts. THAT is good story telling.


Where you Start the Story MATTERS

Sleeping Beauty, as we've all heard it told, begins when this story is maybe 40% DONE already... and HOLY HELL is that some excellent backstory.


Any tricks you know to help the reader really get your villains?

Also, FYI: Thursday is my 5-year Blogiversary, so I will be posting in spite of my slower pace this month.


13 comments:

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I was thinking about seeing this with my daughter, too--looks like it was a fun movie. Some good writing takeaways, too! I like "the good guy doesn't have to *stay* good"--that might work in a story that I'm thinking about. Thanks.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Every villain has motivation for being who they are, and they usually don't see themselves as evil.
Congratulations on five years, Hart!

Mason Canyon said...

Stories where the bad guy doesn't see himself as a bad guy usually gives readers (or viewers) more insight into the character and that adds depth for me. Maleficent looks like it's a good movie. Congrats on your upcoming 5th Blogiversary.

Teresa Powell Coltrin said...

I plan on seeing it with my daughter too. I can't watch any movie now (or TV show) without picking it apart. I love learning that way, but it ruins the show. :)

Teresa Powell Coltrin said...

Oh and congratulations on five years. Your blog is fun to visit.

Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

I thought Maleficent was very refreshing. I'm liking how Disney is so different under their new CEO.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I think it's interesting when the "good guy" has to do some not so nice things. Usually there are very good reasons for this but still, it makes for intriguing and complex characters.

Madeline @ The Shellshank Redemption

Carol Kilgore said...

Great bits about bad guys and good guys. The more I write, the harder it is to write in some ways. I now address issues I didn't know existed when I started.

Congrats on your 5-year Blogiversary!

Cherie Reich said...

Congrats on the upcoming blogversary! And that's a good point to remember about villains. :)

Helena said...

You've convinced me to see this movie. As for villains, I try to write them from their perspective, because in their minds they can believe they're in the right. But when good people do something bad, THAT can really make for an interesting plot twist.

Sounds like Disney has made a grown up fairy tale. And I loved the original from way back too (though I think Cinderalla was my fave).

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Congrats on 5 years, Hart.

Most people don't see themselves as bad, including bad guys.

cleemckenzie said...

Here's a toast to five years! Congratulations.

I've been reading a lot about Maleficent and it has mixed reviews. That means I have to see it and make up my own mind.

Jennifer Kreft said...

We'll be seeing Maleficent this Friday as an end-of-school treat! Looking forward to it, but if I get to take something away from the experience, I want it to be Angelina Jolie's cheekbones. (Although they are a bit...um...exaggerated in the movie!)