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All agent spotlights and interviews have been updated as of 7/15/2020, and many have been reviewed by the agents. Look for them to be fully updated again in 2023.

Tip Tuesday #119

Tip Tuesday features writers' tips on craft, research, querying, blogging, marketing, inspiration, and more. If you'd like to send in a tip, please e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com.

Today's tip was sent in by Kristin Lenz who I hope you're familiar with by now. She's a social worker and writer who contributes to the YA Fusion Blog. This week she's interviewing Alexis Saarela, Publicist at Tor. Go here for this behind the scenes peek into the publishing industry. Her previous tips include #103, #112, and #113. Here's Kristin:

I'm from Detroit, and every year the Detroit Film Theater hosts a screening of the Academy Award-nominated short films - the ones you don't usually get to see in mainstream theaters. It's a 4 hour event featuring a diverse mix of short films. The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore won this year's Oscar for animated short. This delightful,10-minute film has been flying around the internet and was inspired by a story which will be released as a picture book in July 2012. Haven't seen it yet? Go here.

Many, many books are made into movies, but as a writing exercise, try the reverse. Watch a short film and write it down as a story. This is great practice for thinking like a short story writer. The elements are all there for you - the story arc, the emotion, the heart. The challenge is to show all of this in words. Give it a try- at the very least, it's a great excuse to watch some award-winning films. You can find Academy Award-nominated short films on Netflix. If you have any shorts to recommend, please let us know in the comments.

~Kristin Lenz


  1. Great tip! I do often find myself inspired by movies. I should probably take a notebook along to any movie I ever see...or have one next to the couch when I'm watching a DVD ;)

  2. This is an interesting writing exercise. I'll have to share it with my writing group.

  3. Can't go wrong with A Grand Day Out with Wallace and Gromit, nominated in 1989. I saw it at a festival, and it was a crowd favorite.

  4. The Fantastic Flying Books is totally amazing - loved this film and it won, didn't it? I hope so!

    Great way to sharpen one's short story writing skills - thank you for the tip! Take care

  5. Thanks for the tip. I wouldn't have thought to do that. And I didn't know about the Detroit Film Theater.

  6. Ah bummer, I just tested the link for the movie and it's been taken down. But you can find it on YouTube here:

  7. This IS a very interesting writing exercise. I've read that Catherine Lanigan novelized the movie script for Romancing the Stone (1984 film) in only seven days, so that the movie would have a novel to go along with its release. So who knows? A skill like this could come in handy someday.

  8. Neat exercise!!!

  9. Hey, cool exercise! I always hoped to take a screenwriting class, but I think it would be fun to try just writing a story based on a film. A short film might be a good way to start!

  10. Oooh-Never thought of that! Cool exercise!

  11. Never thought of doing that. Cool idea! Thanks for sharing. :)

  12. Holy mother of shiny things! That would be super hard, I think. There's so much more that has to go into words that just appears on the screen. Great idea!

  13. What a wonderful, and innovative, way to practice writing!

  14. That is such a great idea for a writing prompt!

  15. I've never even considered doing that. I have never taken a creative writing class, but that advice sure feels like something from one!

  16. This is a brilliant idea! I know I'll eventually have to write short stories, but they really aren't my thing and I don't know how to write one.

  17. Great tip. I think it's important to be pushing myself creatively to think outside the box. Sometimes I keep getting into a rut.