Muse in a drive-in theatre

Fox 50 Drive-In Theater

The Fox 50 drive-in theater in Lenexa, Kansas. Photo courtesy Cinema Treasures.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post over on my blog about “Creativity and TV crime.” I talked about watching too much television during my formative years and how that had a profound impact on my storytelling. But today I want to talk about another medium, one that had an equally important connection to my desire to write.

I’ve been a fan of movies since I was a kid. When I was young, my parents would pack us kids into the family car on Friday nights every summer and take us to the Fox 50 drive-in theater up the street. We saw Disney films like Now You See Him, Now You Don’t and Herbie the Love Bug. Disney movies became synonymous with family outings, a tradition I carry on today with my family.

I can’t count the number of ways that movies have influenced my writing. I write stories with a 3-act story structure used in screenplays. I see my actors and actresses playing the roles of my characters, which helps me flesh out descriptions. I hear music and add it to the “soundtrack” of my story. Most of what I know about heroes, villains, romance, drama and comedy comes from the movies.

And when I’m having trouble visualizing the direction of story, I like to imagine what the trailer would look like. A good movie trailer hits the high points of the film leading to the climax. When I envision the trailer of my story, I hear a voice-over, a swell of music, and the titles that grab the audience’s attention. If nothing else, it helps me to write a good synopsis.

By the time I reached high school, I had seen a lot of movies. I read magazines about movie special effects and make-up. I dreamed of working at a movie studio. But Hollywood was half a country away, and it wasn’t likely to happen. At some point during my senior year — as I waited in line for snacks at a concession stand — I made the decision to become an English major when I enrolled in college. I wanted to write stories.

And if somewhere down the line those stories were made into movies, all the better.

Kevin Wohler is a copywriter and novelist living in Lawrence, Kansas. During the day, he works at a digital marketing agency in the Kansas City area. When time remains, he likes to tell stories of the weird and bizarre. And sometimes, he writes them down for others to read.

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