Monday, September 19, 2011

Writing with R Kelly: Read On Prompts

Horrible movies. We've all seen them. Some people live for the craptacular*. The stilted dialogue and the horrible CGI make you giddy with glee. You've got your heckle down to a well-oiled machine.

Hate or love them, bad movies do kinda rock. They rock even harder when you can learn from them. If you've followed The Pie for a while, you know that I've shared what you can learn about storyboarding by watching The Room.

Did you can learn about tension by watching R Kelly's Trapped in the Closet?

Yes, you can. Today we'll focus on the "read on prompt."

For those in the Lurkdom who don't know what this means, it's when a scene or chapter ends in such a way that makes you want to read a bit more. The most common version of this is the cliffhanger.

While R Kelly abuses the cliffhanger feature, he does the job of making you want to see what happens in the next scene. (That each scene grows a bit more ridiculous** is a totally different R Kelly writing lesson.) Let's watch Chapter 1 of Trapped in the Closet to see how this is done.

I know, you're in awe of the brilliance.

In this short clip, there are a few places that get you to read on by using the following techniques:

An odd set up. It might not be the strongest way to start off a scene, but everyone needs to start somewhere. The odd set up can help buy you some time with your reader. If it's wacky enough, the reader will want to know how the MC got there. Here, you want to know why the hell he's inside a bedroom closet.

Intrigue. This won't work for every scene or genre, but a sense of mystery can pique your reader's interest enough to get to your next read on prompt. It can be the mysterious loner dude or the fact Susie thinks she saw a UFO. The point of this is to get your reader to TURN THE PAGE. In the above example, the intrique is who is this lady if it's not his wife. Yes, that makes him unlikeable, but you're also a little curious about it.

Mounting tension. Tension or raised stakes are a great way to get your reader to continue on. Even though cliffhangers fall into this category, it can be something small that will affect your character's story enough that we need to know how it goes. At the end of this chapter, we're in a cliffhanger. What's going to happen now that the closet door's open and the gun is out?

Have you seen Trapped in the Closet? What have you learned from it?

Thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh is hosting this blogfest.

* Yours truly is no exception.
** For example, the midget.
__________ hit of the day: Get Off Get Out by Anathema


  1. That is a very bizarre story song. :) Why didn't he leave when the husband checked the bathroom? And why did he have a gun? Evidently I learned that I couldn't dispel my disbelief over some of the details. I needed better world building. LOL

  2. I have not seen it! And now I won't.
    Thanks for participating in the blogfest!

  3. That was one of the stupidest music videos I've ever seen but it does teach so much. I love how he checks in the dresser. Is that video for real? Why did R. Kelley make it?

  4. Come on :) That was one of the unintentionally funniest thing I've ever watched. R. Kelly is always my go-to guy for unintentional comedy. Check out his song "Real Talk" for a sidesplitter.

  5. Hah! My hubby and I once sat and watched all the parts of this video. We kept asking, "Why don't we just cut this off?" But we couldn't, there were twists and turns and a shocking ending (which we're still puzzled over).

  6. Hahahaha! This is awesome. Did you realize that there are now apparently 22 chapters to this? I once spent a full afternoon watching a VH1 marathon. Good times!

  7. WOW! I've seen this video so many times, but I never thought about it this way. But that's true, by then end of it you want to see what happens next. Awesome post. :)

  8. I love Trapped in the Closet! So much awesome!

  9. I haven't seen it and I probably won't ;)
    Great tips

  10. I haven't seen this either. There's a lot to learn, even from the cheesy stuff. When I was younger, I thought it was amazing how Soap Opera writers can make each episode feel like to have to watch the next day, while making so little happen that you can miss a month and still not lose out on much.

  11. No, I haven't! What did you learn from it?


    Can Alex save Winter from the darkness that hunts her?

    YA Paranormal Romance, Darkspell coming fall of 2011!

  12. Oh, R. Kelly... Only in America can a man like him become a success.

    This was a cool blogfest! Though I didn't participate, it was fun to read the posts of everyone who did. :)

  13. I have not seen this gem. I have to say that I'm not disappointed to have missed it!

  14. haha haven't seen it either, saw a for minutes of it once and walked away.


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