Monday, September 26, 2011

In The Zone with Zee: Of The Job of Writing...

Hello beautiful people!

It's the 26th of the month, and after unfortunately not being able to post for the past 2 months, I am back in my monthly Agony Zee slot here. I missed you, guys & gals! :)

So before we start waxing lyrical and passing the tissue box around, let's jump right in with this month's query. It's something I believe will resonate with most of you out there - take a look.

And if there's a query you want answered, whether pertinent to the writing craft or to the writer's life, don't hesitate to drop me a line at


Dear Agony Zee,

I started writing a few years ago. I love the thrill of putting words down and creating my world filled with all those terrific people I get to invent.

I got to the point where I couldn't keep this part of my life bottled up, and so I have come out, so to speak, with my intellectual inclination.

Unfortunately, I wasn't met by the accolades I was expecting to receive. I mean, all I asked for was some support, not for people's eyes to glaze over and then they'd all pat me on the head with a half-smile, the kind people reserve for over-imaginative children or that old aunt who's not quite right in her head.

Can I prove them wrong? I don't want to sound petty or mean, but they do get to me sometimes. Any words of advice?


I am a writer!


Dear I am a writer,

Congratulations on following your call and actually writing a book - you'd be amazed how many people decide they're writers but don't do a thing towards actually finishing a book! Hats off for 'coming out' too, though that kinda stung, innit?

Do I have words of advice for you? Let's see...

Ever wondered about all those names you see in the credits of a movie? The first time I really looked, I never thought there were so many jobs associated with making a flick. You have the directing crew, production crew, casting directors, editors, lighting crew, action/stunt team, among many others.

All these people are working towards a common goal – making a movie, and making it the best they can.

In this light, this team is not different from who you, the writer, are rolled into a one and single person. How? Here are some explanations:

You come up with a story, and you decide to flesh it – you’re doing the job of the scriptwriters.

You need people to ‘act out’ this story – you find ‘actors’ (characters for writers) same as the casting directors.

Next, you need to provide the setting for your story to take place in – that’s the same as the job of the production team.

Then, you place your characters in the setting, say, for a rehearsal of some kind. At this stage, you need props, clothing and accessories – the job of the accessories/props/clothing/hair/makeup departments.

You also need lights and other environmental details to be fitting for the tone/mood of your story – the technical crews come in here.

If you have action scenes in there, you bring in the stunt crew who will work those shots for you and the martial arts consultant and the fight choreographer (that's your research, btw!).

Finally, you carry out the story – not different from the director of the movie who wants to see his/her vision of the plot acted out. You watch the characters/actors play out each scene, then you decide whether to ‘cut’ or keep on ‘shooting’.

When the ‘shooting’ is done, you end up with a first draft, which goes in the hands of the editing crew and the post-production crew. This is the same as layering, beefing, and smoothing your draft into a finished product.

And here everyone else thought you were simply writing!

You as the writer are the whole crew of your picture, and make no mistake about it, ’coz the success of your flick at the box-office lies in your hands. Scary prospect, isn’t it?

How to make this realization work in your favour? Think like a movie crew, and take some pointers from them.

So next time you’re watching a DVD, take a minute to watch the ‘making of’ section, and if you’ve got the time and inclination, watch the whole movie a second time with the commentary on. You can learn lots just from this feature – for example, why they used this bit and not the other, how they came up with the setting, how they devised the strategy to come up with the mood and portrayal of the story, how the characterization took a life of its own, among others.

Never underestimate a movie’s potential to teach you some threads of the craft. The crew that puts the movie together is really no different than you are. Their means is visual while yours is the written word. Take a peek at how they bring it all together. You may just learn a few tricks yourself.

Hope this helps!


Got a question for Agony Zee? Drop me a line at with your concern/issue/dilemma.

If you've got a minute, check out my blog, and my romantic suspense/espionage thriller that released with Noble Romance Publishing a few weeks ago. :)


Anonymous said...

Love this, Zee! Great advice. So true, there are many people behind the scenes to make a good thing better. Thanks for sharing.

Chirstine Warner said...

Hi your comparison and how it all ties together. Well thought out lesson and great advice!

Unknown said...

The way you brought it all together is genius. Couldn't have said it better! x

Zee Monodee said...

Thanks jennifer, Christine, & Angela. :) Glad if I could explain this all out and it made sense. :)

Brenda said...

Zee, you are truly a master. You explained the job of a writer perfectly!

Sheri Fredricks said...

Hi Zee~ Wow, so many crews (not just people!) to make a movie and we writers only have us (me, I, myself) to make a book. I feel for your inquisitor. I suppose anyone who writes has had similar feedback to "I am a writer's". Nice post.

Zee Monodee said...

Aww, thank you Brenda & Sheri! Such sweet and nice words :)

Glad if I managed to shed some light, and help the inquisitor and other authors in the same shoes.