Thursday, December 16, 2010

What Movie Got You Into Writing?

This post was written over a year ago on my own blog, but didn't get much in the way of responses. Thought it was an interesting topic, so I'm trying again here:

One of the questions I often ask writers is: What book got you into writing?

There are a lot of answers, naturally. Writers range from Lehane to Chandler to Mosely to Hemingway to Shakespeare.

And all are understandable.

But I've been thinking about it, and while there are several books that got me into writing (and I'm sure I've mentioned them here), I can only think of one movie.

I saw In the Line of Fire in the theaters with my parents. It was probably in the summer between 8th and 9th grade. I also remember seeing the preview for it when I saw GROUNDHOG DAY.

The preview was John Malkovich, in a voice over, talking about killing the President. While that was happening, all you saw on screen was 1963. The sound of a ticking clock. The "6" spun around to become a "9." At the end of the voice over, Clint Eastwood slams down the phone and says "That's not gonna happen."

I was all in.

We saw it in the theater, and my heart was in my throat as Clint looked through the SEATING CHART (!!) to find Malkovich. When he got dragged on to the elevator at the end. Hell, the rooftop chase. Learning the correct way to spell "ukulele."

Great movie. Still holds up.

And I remember renting the movie and watching it again with my family. And I remember a scene--a montage--late in the film where the Secret Service is planning for the President's arrival and Malkovich is putting on his fatsuit disguise.

And I absently said, "I wonder how this would read in a book."

My parents started talking about how they'd do it, chapter by chapter with about twenty pages of description. How it would be all about building suspense and pacing. I started to play with it in my mind. How would I word those two scenes? Would I try to intertwine them or split them up? Had I read a book like that?

Afterwards, I started to track down political thrillers. I remember reading a book by Jefferey Archer about Saddam Hussein stealing the Declaration of Independence. Something by Christopher Hyde. Trying to get through PATRIOT GAMES by Clancy.

None of them brought the same feel that the movie did. At least not to my freshman mind.

So... now I'm trying to write a book with that feel.

What about you? What movies have inspired you?

5 comments:

Sean Patrick Reardon said...

I can't name any specific movie that made me want to write, reading probably did that. I know 100%, being a child of the 70's that tv and movies did send my imagination into overdrive and did and continuees to play a major influence on my ceativity. I can remember wanting to see Jaws in 5the grade, but my parents wouldn't let me, so I got a copy of the book and read it whenever I could sneak it in. Also remember all the neighborhhood parents talking about The Godfather when it came out, and read that as well at a really young age.

Scott Parker said...

Unlike, say, me getting into mystery fiction (Mystic River is a clear demarcation line), there is no single movie that fulfills that position. There are some that have inspired along the way. In no particular order: Foyle's War, The Dark Knight, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Wallander, The Empire Strikes Back, Pirates of the Caribbean 1, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkebahn, To Kill a Mockingbird, Iron Man, etc.

Joelle Charbonneau said...

I don't think there was any movie that specifically got me writing. However, I will say that I remember reading the second book in the Jurassic Park series and thinking - WOW! This reads like a movie. Then the movie was nothing like it. Go fig!

C. N. Nevets said...

In later life, there have been movies that have influenced my writing (Sphere, Sixth Sense, The Game, In the Line of Fire, Contact, The Lost World, and others), it was probably a handful of television shows that conspired with books to get me into writing.

The strongest of those was Alfred Hitchcock Presents. If I didn't figure out the twist or "gotcha" moment ahead of time, I would often write a story with the twist I had been anticipating.

M*A*S*H* was a huge influence, as well, demonstrating the importance of human drama and a richly evocative atmosphere, no matter what the genre.

And, yeah, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine helped cement my love of complex, layered worlds with intricate plots in which action not only propels the story but also carries with it deeper meaning.

Sean Patrick Reardon said...

N.V- You brought up a great point. I was only thinking movies, but I can say that shows like Twilight Zone, Night Gallery, Tales from the Crypt and Darkside had a big influence on me, especially the twist ending, which I have always been fascinated by and did influence my desire to write.

There was a show on HBO in the 80's called Dream On, and I loved it because I saw the world just like Martin Tupper did, and didn't feel like such a freak.