Memorable moments in a book or movie are the things that keep people talking about it for years to come. My family and I divide them into two (unspoken) categories. 1: Great Scenes. 2: Quotables.
Great scenes are those moments in a movie or book where no one is speaking, but awesome things are going on. It’s the scene from Up! where you learn Ellie and Mr. Frederickson’s entire life story without a single word. It’s the tear-jerking scene in Becoming Jane where she leaves her true love so his family won’t starve. It’s the scene in Sahara where Rudy smuggles himself back over the border.
Scenes that make you laugh, cry, or throw things. Yet they usually don’t say a word. They are completely visual.
These kinds of scenes are important for movies, but they are SUPER important for books too! If you don’t have something that’s going to capture attention, people will stop reading/watching. And no one wants that.
An example from one of my works-in-progress:
Arkin runs across the brown, rocky surface, heading for the ledge on which Boden stands. A warrior leaps for him, but Arkin draws his broadsword and cuts him down.
Several more follow.
Boden leaps from his ledge and lands deftly on the ground before Arkin.
Swords entangle. Armor creaks as they battle.
Colors flash in the air behind Arkin, sparking and subsiding, quicker with every second.
Boden drops to one knee.
A round, shell-like disc falls from Arkin’s belt and clatters on the rocks at the same time the colors behind him become constant.
Arkin is pulled backward, through the wormhole. A small, bug-eyed creature on the ground is sucked up as well.
How do you create a great scene like this? I don’t have one specific answer. I can tell you that it should be detailed, and use emotion! Anger, hurt, humor. Great scenes are often those that break the tension surrounding people in the story. On the other hand, they can also be the scene that turns someone down a mistaken path. Maybe they get too angry at that best friend who’s telling them their boyfriend is an idiot. Maybe they don’t like to be told what to do, so they do the opposite and it’s entirely stupid. Whatever you choose, make it pivotal. Make it something your fans will talk about for eternity.
Quotables are just that. Quotable. Lines that we sit around and spout to each other, discuss, or even throw into everyday conversation. Some examples from other’s work:
“Please be a secret door, please be a secret door, please be a secret door!” (Door opens from wall) “Yay!”
“I’ve got some bad news about your boat sir…” (explosion noise)
“You think you can mess with my mother?” (As he’s totally beating the crap out of his arch nemesis)
I’ll admit, these are kind of lines mixed with action, but that’s because those are usually the best. Exemplar:
Arkin presses the button on the toaster down, and Emma applauds.
You made toast!
She hugs his neck. Arkin tosses his head back and laughs. The sound fills the entire apartment.
(Background: he doesn’t cook. Anything.)
Making something quotable is the fastest way to get people to tell others about your book or movie. Why? Because if it’s quotable, they’ll quote it. Then their friends will ask what it’s from, and they’ll get the answer “This awesome book/movie about (your plotline here). Oh my gosh! You haven’t read/watched this? You should totally read/watch this!”
I’ll give you, it’s hard to just come up with something quotable on the spur of the moment. Usually it arises from the situation in your story. Yes, it can be hard, but it’s totally worth it. So what are you waiting for? Go write something quotable today!
I want to know either your favorite quotable or one you wrote yourself. Ready?… GO!
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