Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Stranger Than Fiction--The Movie


Okay, who’s seen it? For you writers out there, this a movie that’ll make you laugh. You know, those—Oh, sheesh, I know just what she’s talking about kinda laughs. I laughed louder than anybody else in the theater. I even laughed at places no one else did. You just gotta be a novelist to understand. For you readers, this will give you a little insight as to what it’s like to write fiction day after day.

The movie trailer tells so much of the story, that I won’t be giving anything away here. The novelist—a literary sort played by Emma Thompson—can’t figure out how to kill off her main character. (Yes, she kills them in the end—can you imagine?) She’s having conniption fits because she’s totally stuck and can’t finish the book. She’s “researching” by watching people and trying things and smoking a lot. I don’t smoke, but when I’m stuck, I do wander around my office and talk to myself and generally kick cabinets. Well, the cabinet-kicking is a metaphorical thing, but one of these days ...

At any rate, when the novelist finally decides how to end her book—eureka! She’s euphoric! She got the answer? And how did you finally come by it? asks her assistant. The answer that follows is my favorite quote from the movie:

“As with anything worth writing, it came inexplicably and without method.”

Now I’m not an SOTP (seat of the pants) writer, but I can still identify with that line. In this last book I just finished (Crimson Eve), I hit a place where I didn’t know what to do next. I knew where I had to get my character—just wasn’t sure how to get her there. I kicked cabinets and generally felt miserable for a good number of days. This is the time when my ever-loving husband starts to give me sympathetic looks and pats me on the head.

Then we were on a drive. In fact we were on a drive researching where my character would be driving—my husband behind the wheel while I took copious notes. We stopped at a business—and eureka! There it was. The answer came while my husband, son and a third man were talking. I was sort of standing in the background, not listening to them at all. Listening to the wheels turning in the head. Then—there was the answer! Without thinking I threw up my hands and cried, “I got it!!” All three heads turned my direction. Huh?


How did I get my answer? Heck if I know. As the character in the movie says--inexplicably and without method.

And the idea worked, too. I was able to get over the hump after that, and in a few weeks had finished the book.

Writer BGs—what can I say? We’re strange folk. Reader BGs—hey, if you didn’t have us odd ducks in this world, who’d write the books for you?


13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Loved the movie. I think there were a couple of writers sitting behind me because they laughed when I did.

I walk around talking to myself when at home, and when I'm driving, I carry a tape recorder. You never know when you'll get an "I got it!" moment.

Anonymous said...

I love the "I got it"-moments! Had one last night. The faces of my hubby and my son I will never forget. For days, I have been in my nothing-box, staring, mumbling, frowning at nothing in particular... I think they were starting to get used to that. Then came the "I got it!" Well, as from today, they will have to get used to the rattling of a keyboard. And the backside of my head! I just love it!

Kristy Dykes said...

Great post, B.

Yes, Suzan, the tape recorder thing is a good tool for writers.

Julie Carobini said...

I LOVED this movie! Saw it the first night, and want to go back. Not only because of the strange mental world that the novelist lived in--I sooo identified--but because of the underlying "discussion" of literary vs. commercial fiction. At least that's what I read into it--lol. Will Ferrell was precious, and Emma Thompson--does she 'get' writers or what?

Stuart said...

Yep, I loved the movie too. And also love those "AHA!" light-bulb moments when suddenly everything becomes clear and you know exactly what must be done.

Jason said...

I can't imagine you having trouble killing people off like her though! ;)

I also laughed more than anyone else in the theatre. If nothing else, it is a movie for writers to enjoy.

eileen said...

Okay, I'm off this week for 2 movies! Stranger and Nativity Story. MUST do list! Thanks, B.

Susanne said...

There are so many giving good reviews for this I'll have to make sure I see it. I'll make sure to keep you in mind, Brandilynn, as I watch it. :v)

Richard Mabry said...

OK--you win. I've got to see this one.
And, yes, I love it when that moment inspiration comes--and it can come anytime. My golf partner today laughed when I wrote on the back of the scorecard, but I'd just figured out how to almost (but not quite) kill my protagonist and his wife in my current WIP.

R.G. said...

Can't wait to see it! My best friend and I -- both writers -- are going to see it together this weekend. Thanks for the post.

Ane Mulligan said...

Haven't seen the movie, but now I'll have to. I'm just glad to know someone else is like me. There are so many SOTP writers, I feel like a freak! I tried once to write without plotting. I wandered in a sea of no direction like a sailor without a sextant.

Cheryl Russell said...

My writers group from church went to see it and laughed throughout the whole thing. Good movie!

Dineen A. Miller said...

I went to see it with Heather Tipton while she was her for Thanksgiving. We loved it. Needless to say we laughed a lot, usually when others didn't. LOL! That made it even funnier. We are a sick lot!