I saw Sharknado 2: the Second One last week. What to say about that? Well, I liked it. You know going in it isn’t going to be the movie of the year. It actually tries to be bad. However… it’s actually kind of fun. You can learn something from that as a writer: a guy cutting a flying shark in half with a chainsaw is just fun.
Plot and characters
Looking at the plot and the character arcs, it’s not as bad as you’d think. The dialog is purposefully cheesy, and the arcs are a generic mix from other disaster movies, with the over-the-top dial turned to full. However, that’s the point. And because of the fast pace, you’re not lingering on awkward love scenes or actors failing to have chemistry. Every time you run the risk of getting bored, some shark falls on somebody, or eats somebody.
Of course, you expect this, since it’s a satire. And that’s also good to know as a writer: genre matters a lot for what you can and cannot get away with.
Back to the coolness factor. When I’m outlining, I try to take ‘coolness’ into account. Think about your favourite books and movies for a second. It’s usually something cool that springs to mind: light-sabers from Star Wars, the Balrog in Moria from Lord of the Rings, or the sandworms in Dune.
So, after looking at character arcs and plot, always see if there is cool stuff you can put in your book. Especially Sci-fi and Fantasy are good genres for having things happen with magic or technology.
In Sharknado it’s definitely cutting the shark in half with the big chainsaw. Or what happens after.
Go watch Sharknado. Then go write.