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Silent Film – Show vs. Tell

Silent films could be used in class as prompts for discussion on how to show not tell the reader what is happening. Without using dialogue how to silent films show what is happening? How are details important?┬áThese could also be used as a writing prompt when discussing screenwriting, in a similar manner. Prompt: describe the entire scene in detail – what is each actor doing, without providing dialogue as an explanation.


Amy Poehler – Harvard Class Day Speaker

This video could be used in a couple different ways. It could be used as a prompt for humor writing or speech writing – or to discuss both of them at the same time. The video is a little on the long side (15 minutes) so it would probably be best to break it up into one or two shorter segments to show the class instead of using the entire video (though you could link the video through twitter if your class is using that medium or through an online learning site such as D2L).

Darth Vader Commercial

Using this Darth Vader commercial as an example, discuss what techniques the advertisers used to reach potential customers. How does this ad appeal to ethos, pathos and logos? Is it effective? Discuss how similar techniques can be applied for persuasive writing.

Stranger Than Fiction

Use this clip from the opening of the film Stranger Than Fiction to prompt discussion of writing characters and how to bring your characters to life.

Modernizing Classics

Use The Lizzie Bennet Diaries to discuss the idea of modernizing classics. After watching an episode (or possibly several specifically chosen episodes) discuss the updates to the story, what changes the creators made to the story to modernize it, and how these changes affect the story. Do they work? Does the modernization increase interest in the original? Does the modernization detract from the original in any way?

After discussing the video as an example, have the students choose a well-known scene from a classic story and write their own modernization of the story. It could be in the format of a narrative, or possibly a script for a web series similar to The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.