3 Writing Lessons from La La Land

If you are looking for an article that is going to be praise La La Land, I suggest you look elsewhere. If you want an article that is going to show you what to avoid when you are writing through one of the world’s most overhyped movies, then you are in the right place.

I wanted to love the movie. I really did. I am obsessed with musicals, and I don’t think you will find a bigger Ryan Gosling fan than me (hey girl, I respect your writing career so much that I am going to write a post that is slightly controversial). If anyone was primed to be its biggest fan, it was me.

But I am not. Why? Well, I have three writing lessons to let you know why I am not fly-around-a-planetarium in love with La La Land. Warning: spoilers are up ahead. 

1. Develop both leads

My major beef with the movie is that Mia isn’t developed. At all. Seriously, who claims to be obsessed with movies but has never seen Rebel Without a Cause? Also, how is having an aunt that loves movies motivation enough to go into the movie business? I also was not rooting for her play. At all. Why? The audience never got to see it. 

You know what would have been better? If she were a writer. Why? Because that’s all the audience sees her do. I saw her writing during the film, but I rarely saw her act. When she did act, she was pretty terrible.

Sebastian, on the other hand, I felt like I knew a lot about. I know why he loves jazz. I know why he wants to follow his dream. I actually saw him perform jazz.

Your takeaway: When you are writing a romance (or any story with two leads), makes sure both of them are equally developed. 

2. Deliver on your genre promises

When I see a musical, I expect the actors to actually be good at singing and dancing. No offense to Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, but they are terrible at both. Also, the music was not memorable at all. 

Your takeaway: When writing in a certain genre, deliver on its promises (unless you are intentionally breaking them, but if so, proceed with caution). If you are writing a romance, have a happy ending. If you are writing a fantasy, there should be an element of magic. 

3. Be realistic 

I am sorry, but I have a hard time believing that Mia could launch her career off a play that most people thought wasn’t good. Plus, her voice is terrible, so I don’t believe that she would have wooed people in an audition with it.  I also have to really suspend disbelief that she would still care about Sebastian if she were happily married with a kid. To mix movies, let it go, girl. 

Your takeaway: When writing, ask yourself: “Would this happen in real life? Would I react in this way? Would other people really behave in this manner?” 

How about you? Did you love La La Land? Let me know in the comments below.

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