The Top 10 Lessons I’ve Learned From Authors in Movies

Written by A Guest Author | March 17, 2016

Written By Erica Secor

Everything I ever needed to know about being an author I’ve learned from authors in movies. May these nuggets of wisdom guide you along your path to authorship:

LESSON #10 – THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING (2001)

What They Said: Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm) contemplates his retirement: “I’ve got to get away from these confounded relatives hanging on the bell all day, never giving me a moment’s peace […] then settle down somewhere quiet where I can finish my book.”

What I Learned: It is OK to ignore my phone. It is OK to say NO.  NO to parties. NO to running errands. NO to helping the confounded neighbors move. Saying NO keeps me sane and focused when my procrastination superpowers are at their peak.

 

LESSON #9 – STRANGER THAN FICTION (2006)

What They Said: Researcher Jules Hilbert (Dustin Hoffman) informs Harold Crick (Will Ferrell): “I’ve just ruled out half of Greek literature, seven fairy tales, ten Chinese fables, and determined conclusively that you are not King Hamlet, Scout Finch, Miss Marple, Frankenstein’s monster, or a golem. Hmm? Aren’t you relieved to know you’re not a golem?”

What I Learned: It is OK that I don’t know what my actual genre is, yet.

 

LESSON #8 – YOUNG ADULT (2011)

What They Said: Author Mavis Gary-Crane (Charlize Theron) asks a bookstore employee: “Do you want a signed copy? For the store?”

Employee: “No, that’s OK.”

What I Learned: I will never, ever sign my own books unless management specifically asks me to because that was the most awkward scene in any movie, ever.

 

LESSON #7 – SINISTER (2012)

What They Said: Author Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke) gets it: “I’d rather cut my hands off than write a book for fame or money.”

What I Learned: I write horror but can’t stomach watching it. The preview for this movie is the stuff of nightmares.

 

LESSON #6 – THE LAND OF THE LOST (2009)

What They Said: This on-air exchange between Author Rick Marshall (Will Ferrell) and naysayer Matt Lauer (as himself) is inspired:

Dr. Rick Marshall: “This is for you. I signed it. [Hands a book to Lauer. Pause.] You’re supposed to say the title and the publisher.”

Matt Lauer: “That’s not gonna happen.”

Dr. Rick Marshall: “Just say it.”

Matt Lauer: “No.”

Dr. Rick Marshall: “Just say the damn title.”

Matt Lauer: “Fine.” [Shows book to audience]: “Matt Lauer Can Suck It by Dr. Rick Marshall.”

What I Learned: The title comes last. And Matt Lauer is a treasure.

 

LESSON #5 – LOVE ACTUALLY (2003)

What They Said: When the hand-typed pages of his manuscript go flying into a lake, Author Jamie (Colin Firth) admits: “I really must do copies.”

What I Learned: I will back up digital and print copies frequently. Nostalgic shenanigans are not worth the potential risk of losing days, weeks, or months of work.

 

LESSON #4 – THE SHINING (1980)

What They Said: Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) rants about his sacrosanct writing time to his wife: “Whenever you come in here and interrupt me, you’re breaking my concentration. You’re distracting me. And it will then take me time to get back to where I was.”

What I Learned: I will welcome interruptions and breaks because they keep me from feeling overwhelmed by my work and/or disconnected from my family. And I will never house sit a possessed hotel.

 

LESSON #3 – LADY IN THE WATER (2006)

 

What They Said: Amateur writer Vick (M. Night Shyamalan) humblebrags about his potentially world-changing manuscript: “There’s a lot of things in The Cookbook people won’t like to hear.”

What I Learned: I don’t need my manuscript to change the world. I just need it give my nine nieces and nephews some laughs. And fear-induced insomnia.

 

LESSON #2 – BECOMING JANE (2007)

What They Said: As Jane Austen (Anne Hathaway) honors her friends and family with an original speech, rakish dreamboat Thomas LeFroy (James McAvoy) despairs: “Good God, there’s writing on both sides of those pages…”

What I Learned: I will choose my beta readers with discretion. Not everyone wants to hear about my book.

 

LESSON #1 – A KNIGHT’S TALE (2001)

What They Said: Writer Geoffrey Chaucer (Paul Bettany) finally confronts his bullies: “I will eviscerate you in fiction. Every pimple, every character flaw. I was naked for a day; you will be naked for eternity.”

What I Learned: I live vicariously through my main character. When she stands up for herself against someone who may or may not look a lot like that girl who bullied me in grade school, I am avenged. With grace, stealth, and ink, I will eviscerate my bullies in middle grade fiction.

 

Bio: Erica Secor lives near some trees with her husband and two human-like dogs. When she’s not reading college English papers, she writes (and was a) middle grade horror.