Time for another Video Essay Spotlight. One of my absolute favorites is the YouTube Channel Just Write by Sage Hyden. Each video is akin to a mini-lecture on various writing techniques and how they work when applied to a particular movie or TV show.
“But Liz, we write fiction not – ugh – scripts.”
Well, first off, slow your roll, imaginary strawman reader, or you’re really going to lose your mind by the time I get to Lessons from the Screenplay.
Anyway, what I love about Just Write is how Hyden breaks down writing concepts and gives a clear example of how to use them, and why they work. Take a look at last week’s upload for a primer on flat characters and characters arcs, for example. In it, he discusses where we break the rule of character arcs and why it works – specifically in terms of Paddington, with nods to Back to the Future and The Hunger Games.
If I had to level a criticism, it would be that the earlier videos are titled by the media that they’re dissecting and not the lesson we’re supposed to be learning. So if you click on the Wonder Woman video, for example, you won’t know until you start watching that the subject is “bathos” and where sincerity fits in a culture that’s oversaturated with irony and anti-heroes. This naming convention makes it harder to remember the lessons he’s already covered, or circle back to get a refresher on areas where your own writing is lacking. On the other hand, it does help you avoid spoilers for media you haven’t seen yet.
If you love this video, check out more Just Write content on YouTube. (And sorry, one more plug for their Game of Thrones video on everything that was wrong with Season Seven’s writing. It was really cathartic, guys.)
If you love this video and want to pay him money to produce more content, consider supporting him on Patreon.
Special plug: if you pledge at the $10 level: “You’ll get my email where you can send me a sample of your work-in-progress, whether it’s a novel, screenplay, or a short story, and I’ll give you notes on possible improvements. ” (I’m not sponsored by him or anything I just thought that was a pretty cool option. Who doesn’t love feedback?)