How Charlie Chaplin can Improve Your Writing

Hola, Writer Peeps!

Watch any silent movies lately? If you’re a writer, you should. Using extremely limited narration and dialogue, silent films communicate story, motivations, and emotions. The defined visuals, expressions, action, and reactions show the audience only the essentials of the story. And no one did it more brilliantly than Charlie Chaplin. Watch this scene from his biggest hit, City Lights. [Blog continues after the clip.]

Chaplin reshot this one scene 352 times, until it was just right. Notice how the scene is set, how the people move, when the shot closes in and when it opens up. That’s storytelling at its finest.

Study silent movies, especially Chaplin. In the scene above, how do you know the man is attracted to the woman? How do you know she is blind? How do you know she misunderstands? What parts are funny and what parts are tender? Why?

Today’s “talkies” do more with dialogue and with music and sounds, and we can learn from that, too. But that’s a different lesson for another day. Silent film music was added live in individual theaters and varied according to the skill of the musician, so the story itself relied entirely on silent imagery.

Do you have a favorite silent movie? If so, please share in the comments. We’re all in this together.


UPDATE ON PASSOVER FREEBIES: Passover is four days away! You can get your free printable and downloadable Messianic Passover Haggadah on my freebies page. The artists who are working on the free coloring book have not yet turned in all the pages, but I’m told it will be ready before Passover. I’ll post ASAP, so keep checking back. Thank you for your patience. If you have free Messianic coloring pages for Passover, leave a link in the comments, please. We’re all in this together.

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Ride the Pen

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Hebrew for Christians Blog

A personal blog by John Parsons, author of the Hebrew for Christians web site.

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