Just Like In The Movies

Writing Inspiration

Who is a fan of old movies?

I like nothing better than sitting back on a rainy afternoon and watching a movie from the Forties or Fifties. Whether it’s thrillers, romantic comedies or musicals, the classics still hold much appeal.

This golden age of film wasn’t just responsible for introducing glamorous stars to our screens. It also focused on three particularly effective storytelling devices: a character’s motivation, their goals and the obstacles they encounter. These techniques relate to short story writing, too, making your favourite “oldie” a great source of inspiration!


Character motivation is essential if you want the readers to invest time in your protagonist. Whether it’s the affable underdog or bold heroine, clearly underlining what your character is striving for through the course of a story will not only make her more believable to the readers, but it will help define her goals.


Your character can have a heart full of motivation, but without visible goals that motivation will soon dissipate. For example, your character is applying for a new job, and the readers know how much the job will change her life. But they will also need to see your character attempt to bring her goals to fruition, through a tricky sequence of events. Why tricky . . .


By this stage, the readers will hopefully be rooting for your heroine to land that dream job. Whether she lands the job isn’t as relevant as the obstacles she faces. Whether it’s a simple case of nerves or an unlikable interviewer, a struggle will heighten reader interest and sympathy.

Fiction writing shouldn’t be complicated. Keeping these three little storytelling devices in mind can give purpose to your characters, revealing a storytelling journey that’s crying out to be read.

You can find more inspiration, hints and tips in our Writing Tools section.

Alan Spink

Alan is a member of the “Friend” Fiction Team. He enjoys working closely with writers and being part of the creative process which sees storytelling ideas come to fruition. A keen reader, he also writes fiction and enjoys watching football and movies in his spare time. His one aspiring tip to new writers is to “write from your imagination”.