Mise-en-scene for Novelists — Sharon Wilharm ( + Giveaway )
Today I’m happy to welcome author Sharon Wilharm as she shares some writing tips for authors. Read through to the end to find out how to enter her giveaway.
As a filmmaker who teaches at writing conferences, I’m often asked how writers can give their novels a cinematic touch. I teach them visual storytelling and the concept of Mise-en-scene.
Mise-en-scene is a film term that refers to everything you see in the shot. Nothing shows up randomly. It’s all planned ahead of time so that each detail contributes to the story. It can include cast, costumes, location, set design, blocking, and props. So how does mise-en-scene relate to novelists? Everything in your scene needs to be there for a reason, and it needs to help tell your story.
Cast – Casting directors know the importance of selecting the the right actors for each role. Not only do they need to look the part, but they need to work well with the cast as a whole. When casting your novel, give much thought to who you choose for each role. Don’t limit yourself to cliches. Stretch yourself to include diversity so that each character is distinctive. Include short and tall, dark and fair, beautiful and homely. Most importantly, make them interesting and unique.
Costumes – People wear clothes. Characters wear costumes. Everything your character wears reveals something about their personality. So don’t just clothe him in jeans and a t shirt. Put her in a bohemian dress, a canary yellow raincoat, or a pair of worn sneakers with a hole at the toe. Use costumes to define personality and to show character change.
Location – Location sets the tone for a scene. Your readers need to know where a scene takes place and what it looks like. They love to be transported to exotic locations, bu this doesn’t have to be a foreign country or another time period. It can be as simple as a a small town drugstore, a frozen lake in the midst of a forest, or a dilapidated shack on the wrong side of town. The importance is including details that allow the reader to feel they’re there.
Set Design – Furnish your sets with furniture and decor that enrich the story. Instead of just a couch, have an overstuffed leather sofa, a floral couch from the Truman era, or a burgandy velvet settee. Insert wallpaper, artwork, appliances, and flooring.
Blocking – Avoid talking heads. Talking heads refers to scenes where people sit and talk without doing anything. Most often talking heads scenes take place in restaurants where they eat their meal and talk, but nothing else happens. Get your characters moving. Stand up. Sit down. Walk around the room. Keep it active rather than stagnant.
Props – Give your characters items that reveal character traits. If they’re going to write a letter, pick out a writing utensil that tells us something about them – a pen that never writes, a pencil with a perfect point, an engraved gold fountain pen.
Filmmakers have a limited time to tell their stories. Novelists have more freedom. However, each word you choose should be there on purpose, not to fill up space. Make the most of your mise-en-scene.
Readers, leave a comment below to enter her giveaway for a copy of “Summer of ’67”.
About the Author:
Sharon Wilharm is a filmmaker, blogger, and speaker who teaches screenwriting, visual storytelling, and marketing at film and writing events. . Her films have screened in theaters around the country, amassed dozens of festival accolades, aired on multiple television networks, and sold in bookstores throughout the U.S., Australia, and Canada. Her awards include the “Shibboleth Award” for Visionary Leadership in the Field of Christian Film Making”. Her latest film Summer of ’67 is available at Amazon Prime, Christian Cinema, Google Play, and other online outlets.
Connect with Sharon:
Sharon’s website – www.sharonwilharm.com
Sharon’s blog – www.faithflix.com
Summer of ’67 website – www.summerof67.com