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What makes a ‘magical’ Hollywood romance?

Books & Poetry

Love was in the air at Glenelg over the weekend as around 400 writers from all over the country attended the Romance Writers of Australia 25th-anniversary conference, ‘Ain’t Love Grand!’

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The major drawcard was Hollywood screenwriting consultant Michael Hauge.

In an all-day workshop Friday, Hauge shared his secrets and expertise with eager writers at all stages of their careers, revealing the essential principles of Hollywood storytelling, and how writers can create more emotionally involving and commercially successful fiction.

Following his second presentation on Saturday, which looked at the anatomy of a Hollywood rom-com, Samantha Bond sat down with Hauge to ask some questions about mastering storytelling.

What makes a story “magic”?

When we say a movie is magical, it comes down to having an emotional experience. Magic touches an audience on a deep level.

Those movies that do this manage to combine familiarity and originality to create an emotional connection for the audience to the characters.

Stories that are magical contain surprises; they take what we think is predictable and tell it in a new way.

What advice do you have for people who want to be writers?

Number one is you have to love to write. No matter how much you dream of success and what that might encompass, it can’t and won’t happen unless you love sitting down and putting yourself on the page through your characters and story.

Number two is to perfect your craft. Get feedback from experts, attend conferences, study, learn the principles and tools of great writing craft. Anyone can tell a story, but to do it well means you need to go deeper.

And number three is reject rejection. Weather the effects of negative opinions and others imposing priorities on you over your writing. Don’t take rejection personally; just learn from it and don’t let it stop you writing.

You mentor/coach writers one-on-one. What could a writer expect from an hour session with Michael Hauge?

My primary job is to find out what that writer’s vision is for their creation and close the gap between what they’ve written already and what they want to achieve on the page or screen.

I ask questions to find out what they want, then apply my years of experience and expertise to their creation to help them fulfil their goals.

What’s your favourite or most memorable story/movie (if you have one) and why?

I don’t have one favourite because it would be asking too much of someone who has loved movies all their life to pick just one. It would be like asking who is your favourite grandchild.

My most-loved movies tend to be Hollywood movies because I believe people primarily go to see movies because they like to see problems solved; stories where the hero or heroine finds the courage to transform and be true to themselves and are subsequently rewarded for that courage.

I like happy endings!

For more information about Michael Hauge, or to order any of his writing craft products including books and videos, see his website.

In addition to its annual conference, Romance Writers of Australia runs forums, writing “bootcamps”, workshops and competitions for members, and publishes a monthly newsletter.

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