To be clear…I’ve ALWAYS been a fan of the Matrix. I wasn’t allowed to see the Matrix when it came out in theaters, I was too young. But it pretty much defined me in High School. My other dear friend Steph was equally obsessed as I was. We thought Keanue Reeves was the hottest actor of our time, we thought the ideals behind the Matrix were mind-blowing and we even wrote stories/fanfiction about the Matrix in notes and passed it to each other in class because we were THOSE nerds as my awesome friend Tymothy would say.
It’d been many years since I last saw the original Matrix. I wasn’t as thrilled about the sequels. They had memorable moments and Trinity/Neo is such an adorable ship. But I wasn’t blown away by them. But that’s not what I’m here to talk about today. I’m talking about how we can apply Morpheus’ lessons to Neo to our own writing. Like said…woah! And I’m not saying by the end of this blog post you’ll know kung fu…but hopefully by the end you’ll be just as inspired by the Matrix to write as I was.
Lesson One: “I can only offer you the truth…nothing more”
For writers, I take this as the truth of their world. As in, world building. Show them the world the characters live in, why the world is important, and more importantly…why the characters are important in that world.
Lesson Two: “Morpheus is fighting Neo!” *entire crew scatters to watch*
My editor taught me the importance of action scenes, and without them, the story is is flatter than an out-fizzed soda. But with the right set up for the action, the action scene itself, and the consequences (which I feel a lot of movies leave out) of the action can lead to a very compelling addition to the story. But I feel the biggest problem, especially with Hollywood, is they have action just because it’s cool. While the Matrix does plenty of that too, they also tell a story thru action. Action drives the movie, and even beyond the epic special effects that changed Hollywood forever until Avatar is made, the action scenes themselves are downright cool because of how they tell the story.
For instance, if Morpheus just accepted Neo’s word that he knew kung fu instead of insisting being shown it, that scene would not have even happened. And if that scene didn’t happen, we wouldn’t have a million movies afterwards copying Morpheus’s hand movement of ‘bring it’. Plus, when Neo does start to kick some ass, I think we as an audience would have a hard time accepting that he knows what he’s doing just by being plugged in a computer program for ten hours. But when we can see that he has some kick ass moves, it helps us accept it later on. Same can be true with novels and screenplays.
Lesson Three: Smith versus Cypher
Cypher is an under-praised character, I think. He’s easily forgotten because aside from being a major creeper stalker for Trinity and jealous that she likes Neo instead of him (well, duh!) and of course being the snake that lets the Agents after them. But aside from all that, even more importantly from the POV of a writer, he does a very important thing. He teaches us that there are bad guys, and then there are villains.
Bad guys are the creeps of the stories. They are there to make the MC’s life just a little bit difficult. They are not the main conflict they are just there to sneer, snide, poke and pride at our characters to add DEPTH and LAYERS of our story. They are the annoying mosquito bite you can’t scratch of the story. But because they are so minor, it’s easy to forget them. Even I’m guilty of this.
But imagine if there was no Cypher of the story. Imagine if Agent Smith was the only baddie, and there’s no denying Smith is bad. The plot would be sluggish I think without Cypher, as Cypher’s betryal of the crew is a major turn point in the story. Probably throws us into Act 2 of the movie. Without it, there would be another way for the Agents to find them, and I’m not sure what that way would be. Maybe it would be better, but I’m a fan of the lesser villain for depth of a plot.
That’s it for now, there are SO many other lessons to be learned from epic movies like the Matrix. What movies have taught you about writing? And if they have taught you something, what is the lesson?
Hope you guys enjoyed! I’ve started to dabble in screenwriting in a movie called And They Will Come From the Lake…a Chicago horror movie with oil-zombies. Screenwriting is hard because of the sluglines and rules, but it is also so much freeing because it flows very nicely compared to writing a book. I recommend everyone at least try it!
Oh and in other news I lost my job on Friday. Good news is I’m now officially an unemployed writer so I have more time for writing and Twitter. Missed you guys like woah 🙂
Keep writing Tweephearts!
And if you were as disappointed as me with the sequels, this is a video for you.