Write What You Know. Then Watch It.

Let’s face it. Writers are interesting people.

Of course Hollywood has cashed in on this. Besides, when you’re a writer, one of the first things you’ll find yourself doing when you sit down to the keyboard…is writing about what you’re doing.

( I can’t tell you how many bad stories I read every week that open with a conflicted author who becomes his character, or loses his mind. Then there are the stories that open with someone reading or writing the story you’re about to read, or keeping a journal, or finding a diary, or writing a script or … you get the picture.)

A few of the better movies about writers:

Hannah and Her Sisters
Dianne Wiest plays a failed-actress-turned-writer who draws a little too closely on her own sister’s marriage for inspiration in creating a script.


Permanent Midnight
Even as he was making a name as a hugely successful TV writer (thirtysomething, Moonlighting, Alf), Jerry Stahl was on a downward slide of heroin use and crazy, self-destructive behavior. As long as he produced, nobody he wrote for really cared.

Adaptation
LOVE LOVE LOVE Charlie Kaufman. What a talented guy.

Charlie has been hired to write an adaptation of Susan Orlean’s The Orchid Thief which, ironically, happens to be an almost inadaptable non-fiction book about a plant dealer. While Charlie struggles, his twin brother, Donald, becomes a well-paid action hack — a transformation that makes Charlie even more neurotic than he was before.


In a Lonely Place ( Title says it all, doesn’t it?)

Lots of Hollywood scribes have a streak of self-loathing about what they do — and so it goes for Humphrey Bogart’s down-on-his-luck Dixon Steele in this masterwork of moody noirish angst from director Nicholas Ray. (The script is by Andrew Solt, whose extremely downbeat original ending was reworked by Ray and the cast — a case-in-point illustration of how little control writers typically have over the finished product.)


Here’s a list of TEN TOP GREAT MOVIES ABOUT WRITERS, some of which I’ve seen, and
of course I would have to add a recent movie: STRANGER THAN FICTION which gets into the wacky minds of female writers and the conundrums of caring too much for your characters.
This movie made me so sad, because it was probably true.

But this weekend, I found another movie about writers that I love. PURPLE VIOLETS
You can see the trailer, even download the movie for your IPOD. A really wonderful Ed Burns film.

One response on “Write What You Know. Then Watch It.

  1. Churlita

    I agree. I have read some bad books and seen some overly self-indulgent movies about writing. I love your list of the good ones though.