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Use Michael Bay as Your Writing Muse

Note from the Chief Editor: This is a guest post from Al at 7P Productions.

They say that a common mistake for new writers is the tendency of not fully using the imagination to tell the story. First time writers usually are not comfortable with letting loose the creativity needed to make the story dynamic. They tend to have uninteresting characters, a less than compelling plot, or simply a dull writing style. New writers should not be afraid to expand their vision to make the story more compelling.

If you need some inspiration on being a dynamic storyteller, look no further than Michael Bay. You may know him from modern classics such as Bad Boys, Armageddon, and Transformers. Who better to be your writing inspiration than the man who can bring out the super in superfluous?

Here are some guidelines that are inspired by Michael Bay’s signature techniques for elevating a story:

  • Start things off with an awesome explosion: Whether it’s a thriller, sci-fi, or even romance, Act I of the story needs to be impressive enough to make the reader want more. Its purpose is to engage the reader and to set the tone of the story. Entice the reader with the opening line and continue to hook the reader by giving a taste of the excitement and drama to come. Make the reader salivate for Act II.
  • Use sexy characters (even if she’s a car mechanic or an internet hacker): Every character has the potential to be interesting, particularly the supporting characters. Don’t fall into the trap of making flat one-dimensional characters if they’re not the lead hero. Do your homework and flesh out your characters as real people rather than commonplace characters and stereotypes. If they’re not interesting, you’re not paying attention.
  • Throw in more awesome explosions: Keep the reader engaged by continually increasing the stakes as the story develops. If you make the story linear, it becomes predictable. Create an unpredictable ride by adding more obstacles and escalating the stakes as the story progresses.
  • Put Planet Earth in danger: Raise the stakes to the highest level by ultimately putting the world at risk. This world can be everything within the hero’s sphere of interest, or simply the world inside the character’s head. Wherever you draw the boundaries, make sure it’s significant enough with respect to the character.
  • There’s never enough awesome explosions: A character arc is the growth of the character along the story. Use powerful events with the character to shape the arc. The peak of the arc is the revelation, where the character experiences the most significant transformation. Dramatic change can only happen as a result of dramatic events.
  • Create a situation where escape is impossible. Afterwards, find an escape: The great storytellers knew that if you want to tell a good story, you must know how to apply tension. According to Jerry Cleaver, author of Immediate Fiction, the components of a story are simple: CONFLICT + ACTION + RESOLUTION = STORY. The reader will follow the story to find out what actions the hero takes to attain resolution, but both components rely on conflict to be meaningful. To control the tension, control the conflict. Don’t be afraid to increase the tension to make the story more compelling.
  • End with the mother of all awesome explosions: Every great story has an ending worthy enough to make the story resonate well after the last word was read. Don’t settle with just tying up loose ends; draw out the tension and sacrifice everything as your exclamation point! Make the experience worth the reader’s time and give a finale that the story deserves.

I’m curious to know in which areas you see the need for improvement as a new writer. Would it be the characters, the plot, or the writing style itself? This article also has a slant towards fiction writers, but can these principles also be applied to non-fiction writing?

Image credits: focal intent

About the author: Al’s goal is to simply make the world a better place. You can read about his progress in his blog at 7P Productions.

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32 thoughts on “Use Michael Bay as Your Writing Muse”

  • First I just wanted to say that I enjoyed they way you wrote this post. Amusing and informative at the same time. :-)

    I think that new writers have trouble really finding their voice. This would, of course, make for an awkward writing style. It’s only with writing, writing and more writing that I think we can overcome this.

    BTW, you did a great job of summing up all of Bay’s movies!

  • Al at 7P says:

    @Motivate Thyself: thanks for the feedback. I agree that there’s no other way to find the writing voice than to just simple write until it’s found. The key is to write in an uninhibited manner and to be willing to be bold about what we write about.

  • I’m going to start off this post with an AWESOME EXPLOSION! And I love the pic you used – very appropriate. Michael Bay is certainly the Kind of overly dramatic story telling, and despite his lack of subtlety there is still a lot to be learned about story telling from one of his flicks. He definitely knows how to put his characters under pressure, create conflict and raise the stakes as far as they can go.

    I think the original Bad Boys is his best. Clever dialogue, appealing characters, lots of explosions and humor.

    Now I’m going out with a BANG!

    Kelly

  • J.D. Meier says:

    Kaboom. Action, drama, suspense. It’s all good.

    The pattern I see in the examples you give is surprise along with taking the reader’s emotions on a calculated roller-coaster ride. Sweet.

  • J.L. Munn says:

    In my humble opinion writers at any level, novice to professional, need to continue working on character, plot and style, which I think is obvious even in your example writer. For me – in his work you see the strongest in terms of all three in Bad Boys with a slow progression into mediocrity for the rest, culminating in the horror that was the Transformers. (Although I must admit that referencing a film writer’s work in terms of the final film is not always fair. The medium of film is a very collaborative process, leaving room for the flaws of the final product to lie on the shoulders of other artists – like the actors, editors, directors, etc.)

    In terms of the toughest aspect for new writers, it is not necessarily character, plot or style. I think behind all of those lies the courage and calm it takes to allow yourself to go completely into that world you are trying to create without getting lost.

    And finally, your points are great and can be applied to non-fiction as well as fiction, but in both worlds (fiction and non-fiction) over-stimulation doesn’t leave much room for your story or your characters. As with most things in art and life, finding that delicate balance between the two makes the difference between trash and treasure.

    Thanks for the article!

    J.L. Munn

  • Al at 7P says:

    @Kelly: It looks like you got the formula working :) ! Yeah, subtlety isn’t quite a part of Michael Bay’s films; he is the master of raising the stakes to another level. I’m kicking myself because I neglected to include “The Rock”, another movie that shows how the tension can be stretched along the way.

    @J.D. Meier: Agreed – the reader might thing it’s the destination that is interesting, but it’s really the roller coaster ride along the way that keeps the reader along for the ride.

    @J.L. Munn: Film is indeed a collaborative medium and you bring up a great point. It’s hard to assess the level of contribution from the writer, as opposed to the actors, the director, and the editor. Good scripts can turn into bad movies, but it’s hard to make a good movie from a bad script. I like how you described how both courage and calm are needed to get into the story. Courage to get fully immersed and to extract the vital essence, yet the calm to be able to control how to express it.

  • Lots of awesome explosions here, Al. :)

    I love the kind of fiction that makes me stay up late so that I can finish the book and know how it ends.

  • Mary Jaksch says:

    Hi Al!
    I love this post. All the ‘awesome explosions’ made me laugh! I’m trying to see how I could transpose this to my next article on GoodlifeZen.com. That’s a real challenge!

  • Al,

    I agree with Kelly that pic is fabulous. You’ve really thrilled us with action, drama and bit of spice in your writing.

    Shilpan

  • SpaceAgeSage says:

    Hi, Al — I probably need to work on fleshing out the characters with better dialogue that pulls the reader in more. My techno-thriller has all the other elements — including both physical and emotional explosions. Good to know I’m on the right track!

    Lori

  • Jim Bessey says:

    Great points, Al! [whoosh-boom!]

    Your guidelines remind me of the way Lee Child writes his Jack Reacher series novels, which are very tough indeed to put down. Going farther back, John D MacDonald followed these guidelines, sans literal explosions, as he brought Travis McGee to life for his devoted readers.

    Thanks for putting this excellent advice in one place. As the NY Times always says, “…a sure-fire recipe for thrills and adventure…5 stars”

    ~Jim

  • Gamy Rachel says:

    Nice job Al. Given you a stumble.

    Best,
    Gamy

  • Davina says:

    Hi Al. Great guest post!

    I would have to say that as a writer I need to focus on discipline. The rest will follow with practice. I don’t write fiction, but this can apply to non-fiction too.

  • writer dad says:

    My story doesn’t have a proper story arc. It just kind of rambles and then abruptly ends. The rewrite is trying to round it out. Paying attention to conflict + action + resolution = story is a great idea.

  • Jeepers I have a lot to learn.

    The story of triplets I wrote about in my last post doesn’t have much of what you suggested. Although I do have an ace up my sleeve. The triplets have an older sister who will be revealed next week.

  • Hi Al,

    What a wonderful, value based article. Although I’m not a fiction writer, your points are those I can also use when blogging. I’ll be bookmarking this page for future reference.

  • Natural says:

    Great info. here, Al. I’m always working on how I can better tell a story, quickly catch the reader’s attention and entertain. The opening line is very important.

    thanks for pointing out this blog, will keep an eye on this one for sure.

  • Al at 7P says:

    Thanks everyone for the feedback! I’ll try to group my response to make it easier to read:

    @Vered: those are the best books, aren’t they? I have a shelf full of partially-read books because they simply didn’t interest me enough to finish them. I love the books that deprive me of sleep!

    @Mary: there can never be enough awesome explosions! This article was focused on storytelling, but a lot of the suggestions are applicable to blog articles too. Bloggers should try to use their imagination to the fullest to make the blog interesting.

    @Shilpan: Thanks for the comment – the real credit goes to Michael Bay for being an awesome muse! :)

    @SpaceAgeSage: I’m into techno-thrillers, so count me in when you announce your release! That’s great that you have both the physical and the emotional explosions covered. Most sci-fi type books do well with the physical aspects of the story but leaves the emotional part lacking.

    @Jim: Cool, that’s the first time I ever had a whoosh-boom after my name, and thanks for the NYTimes-like review!

    @Gamy:

  • Al at 7P says:

    @Gamy: You’re a sweetheart – thanks for the stumble! (I hit submit a little too soon due to excitement – must be all those explosions.)

    @Davina: I hear you regarding discipline. With continual practice, finding the inner voice and being comfortable to let loose on the pages is sure to come.

    @Writer Dad: I really like the “conflict + action + resolution = story” formula. It helps to guide me whenever I get off track. Sounds like you also have a great system of creating a first draft and relying on your rewrite to round things out.

    @Leanne: sounds like the ace you’ll be using in your story will give that awesome explosion!

    @Barbara: Yeah, this article is geared towards storytelling, but a lot of the main points can also be applied to blogging. I might have to revisit this idea and write an update specifically for blog articles – thanks for giving me that thought!

    @Natural: I’m a fan of your blog because you do have a way of engaging readers with your fun articles!

  • Marelisa says:

    Awesome post Al. My favorite bit of advice–apart from creating constant explosions–is to put the world in danger. There’s nothing like someone about to fall over the precipice and being rescued in the nick of time to create suspense.

  • I wonder if anyone’s ever written a thriller novel that was just one long explosion from beginning to end. Now that’d be something …

  • Al at 7P says:

    @Marelisa: I’m with you. I love the stories where you just can’t put it down because you really want to know what will happen to the world that’s in danger.

    @Seamus: That would be a brilliant story. It might have to be a short story or else we’d be too exhausted to finish reading it due to sensory overload :) .

  • Cath Lawson says:

    Hi Al – these are great tips. I love those explosive endings where there’s a huge battle between the hero and the villain. We always know the hero’s going to win, but it’s still exciting.

  • Rita says:

    Oh, Al,

    This is brilliant! I can see 20 movies running simultaneosly in your mind, forcing the reader to do the same.

    All of the compenents – putting the world in danger, having an unescapable escape, the explosions (x 10), the beautiful female mechanic!

    Tell me please, has anybody ever seen you and Michael Bay in the same place? I would venture to guess that it wouldn’t be possible!

    Rita

  • Al at 7P says:

    @Cath: Yeah, that’s the beauty of stories, isn’t it? Even if the ending is predictable, we’d still enjoy it if the ride to get to the ending was exciting!

    @Rita: It’s pretty universal… whether it’s a romance, a whodunnit mystery, or even an existential journey, the story can always use a little more awesome explosion ;)

  • Jim Bessey says:

    Al, thought of this post immediately when I picked up an older pprbk for lite reading, “3rd Degree” by James Patterson (w/Andrew Gross). Here’s page 6: “Then the townhouse with the terra-cotta roof exploded into flames.” You were right, I just HAD to keep reading! :)
    ~Jim

  • Now I know where I’ve gone wrong. I don’t have enough explosions in my posts. :) I get your point even for a career change writer I can add a little drama and blow something up.

  • Dave Tex says:

    Michael Bay as a muse? Michael Bay is everything that’s wrong with the film industry. His movies appeal to the lowest common denominator. Explosions are all his movies have going for them. Pearl Harbor, Bad Boys, and Transformers are terrible.

    We have enough bad tv, movies, and James Patterson books polluting the shelves of our stores and the minds of people everywhere. I’m begging anyone who takes the time to read this article NOT to use Michael Bay as a muse. PLEASE!!!

    What’s next, Keanu Reeves as a role model for actors?

    You make some good points throughout your article, but Michael Bay should not be anyone’s muse in any way.

  • Evelyn Lim says:

    Hilarious post!! Thanks for the awesome and explosive tips!! Now off to create more drama and action in my articles!!

Comments are closed.