Social Media: An Unorthodox Tool for Writers

with Alan Mehanna - 2015-12-04

"Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell."

-Seth Godin-

I have been listening to a lot of writing podcasts lately: On the Page, Script-notes, BAFTA Screenwriting Lectures, to name a few. To say that I have learned a lot from listening to those is a complete understatement. The more I listen, the more I realize my growth as a writer - so it is a learning experience that is internal as well as external.

The most recent episode I listened to was the BAFTA Screenwriting Lectures with writer, producer, and director Nancy Meyers (It’s Complicated, Something’s Gotta Give, The Holiday, Father of the Bride, The Intern), who has such a unique view of writing, and is such an amazing woman (at least from what I heard).

But this post is not about Nancy Meyers but a tool that Meyers uses when she is writing - a tool by the name of Pinterest.

Yep, you heard right. The weird, arts-and-crafts, recipe-filled, photo-stuffed social media site that I could never understand, suddenly now became intriguing and from that spawned the idea of how social media can truly become a fantastic and creative tool for writers - and not in the way you think.

My most recent post discussed the use of social media as a networking tool for writers and how writers should use it to connect with others in the field. This post, however, is to discuss how the use of social media can actually aid in the writing process, and more specifically in the creation and solidifying of characters. I think, by now, you should be predicting where I am about to go next.

I, personally, wouldn’t want to use Facebook, or Twitter, because those would need too much maintenance. The idea of Pinterest, however, which is all about creating boards is quite an attractive thought. I’ve heard many talk about the benefits of vision boards, and how visualizing their goals, or lives helps them focus. So, why can’t writers do the same thing by using Pinterest?

It can be something as simple as placing a possible face onto your character, or as detailed as what their home looks like, what music they enjoy, what films they watch, series, books, the ideas are endless - and instead of writing them on paper…visualize them by using this form of social media. The benefits are endless, and let’s be honest if a master of screenwriting like Meyers uses it, then maybe we should learn from her and give it a try.

Here is an exercise…For your next screenplay, or teleplay create albums on your Pinterest account specifically for your characters.

Visualize things they would like, favorite, or share in the realm of social media.

Visualize the elements that exist in a typical character profile: car, pets, home, music, films, series, books, quotes they like or that would inspire them.

Visualize even what they look if you want. 

Visualize the character’s rules - the things your character would enjoy publicly (social and workplace), personally (in his or her one-on-one relationships), and privately (whenever they think no one is watching).

See if doing this helps - nothing to lose.

I, personally, am always open for new tricks from the masters, so this is one technique I will experiment with on the screenplay I am currently developing.

If you work on this as well please feel free to share links to your characters’ albums on Pinterest, I would love to see how you like this new tool, albeit it’s not new in the realm of social media.

Also, please feel free to share your thoughts on this post or any other post on this blog.

Alan Mehanna

Instructor, Faculty of Information & Communication