Posts Tagged ‘writer characters’
Perception’s Daniel Pierce (Eric McCormack) is a brilliant neuropsychiatrist:
- He has published 7 books on neuroscience.
- He is teaching at a prestigious university while helping the FBI solve their most complicated cases.
- He has finished med school at the top of his class.
- He can see things and make connections others can’t.
- Only the most complicated and exciting puzzles can keep his interest.
- Oh, and, he is managing all this (depending on your perception), despite/with/because of his condition: schizophrenic paranoia.
He mostly manages his condition with carefully set routines, the help of his TA and living aid Max, and through the cases his FBI agent friend/ex-student Kate (Rachael Leigh Cook) brings.
Perception is a wonderfully inspiring show, especially if you are a writer and/or you’re suffering from a health condition, mental or otherwise.
It has great acting, intriguing storylines, a well-written main character and scientific accuracy, being assisted by the leading neuroscientist David Eagleman who’s also a writer (of fiction and non-fiction, his non-fiction having been published on Wired, The New Yorker and others.)
I like breaking the don’t-watch-tv productivity tip. I don’t watch everything, trust me. I try, evaluate and become a regular watcher of shows that are smart, highly entertaining, inspiring and intriguing. It helps if there are characters you can empathize with on one level or the other, or characters whose jobs you wouldn’t mind doing (e.g. Cal Lightman’s job, Lie to Me.)
Perception is such a show, and I recommend writers to at least check it out because:
1) Perception combines drama/mystery & comic relief really well. As writers, we want to be able to pull this off well, especially in fiction.
2) The leading character’s self-depreciating sense of humor as a defense mechanism works on a writing level, but it also gives us ideas on how to manage our own conditions and issues.
3) He writes to keep sane, and well, he is full of ideas all the time so he needs different media to convey them. He lectures, aids FBI and writes books.
4) He is a writing success despite his condition.
5) The show presents the very exciting field of neuroscience. I’ve been reading about it since I started watching the show.
6) There is a fictional role model, as well as a real one (the consulting neuroscientist/writer David Eagleman who was born in 1971!)
7) It gives you nice little flashback into university years. I only had a couple of inspiring lecturers, so I wouldn’t have minded one like Pierce: always engaging, always relevant.
If you are collecting reasons to go back to college, this might warm you up further to the idea. Just remember, not all campuses are that nice and a lot of the lecturers tend to be boring.
8) It’s possible to be a writing expert and expert writer at the same time. Writers might lack the professional knowledge and need to interview experts. Experts might lack the writing skills.
Pierce (and Eagleman) possess both. Oh, I should add that Eagleman brainstorms with Perception writers about the possible scenarios too.
9) It provides therapeutic entertainment. Just listen to the lectures where he covers lying, fears, reality…
10) And the series has an overall appreciation of individuality and life.
Have you watched it?
P.S. To read more about perception, you can check out its review here.
27 Dresses – Getting Involved with Your Resource & Letting Your Source Know The Actual Story
A little on the writer who wrote the movie: Aline Brosh McKenna
27 Dresses is a fun romantic comedy from 2008, starring Katherine Heigl, James Marsden and Edward Burns.
27 Dresses isn’t just a good example for having a writer character, but it is also successful on its own right as a film. Having made $160,000,000 at the box office with its $30,000,000 budget, it is an encouraging example for writers who want to sell their romantic comedy scripts. Since its dialogue is pretty witty and more original than most romcoms, taking a look at the screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna’s other work is a good idea.
She has written or co-written We Bought a Zoo (starring Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson), Morning Glory (starring Rachel McAdams, Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton), Laws of Attraction (with Pierce Brosnan and Julianne Moore) adapted script of Devil Wears Prada (starring Meryl Streep.)
And while all of these movies weren’t hits, she has been able to sell her work since the late 90s, and it is hard not to be impressed when you look at who has said yes to her stories.
Now that you know a bit more about the writer behind the writer (played by James Marsden), let’s look at the movie- though you might want to stick to my movie review if want a less detailed (and not-spoiled) summary where I focus on the whole movie-and not just Kevin.
Still with me? Great.
The Writer Character : James Marsden
Kevin Doyle (James Marsden) is covering weddings (under the name of Malcolm Doyle) for the commitments section of the New York Journal and dying to get out of it. Unfortunately he is quite good at it, and his editor doesn’t want to assign him something else. And while he can make women swoon with his romantic words, he is really a cynic who doesn’t believe in any of it.
Jane (Katherine Heigl) is a big fan. A true romantic, she collects his articles and hopes that one day she will also be a bride at a dream wedding. And if there is anyone who can handle planning a wedding, it is her. She has been a bridesmaid 27 times, helping the brides do everything from dress selection to cake tasting. She doesn’t mind helping them, but she’d be much happier if the man of her dreams, her boss George (Edward Burns), just fell for her. But not only George is unaware of her affections, he sees her as a good friend and an assistant.
It’s during a wedding craze (and by craze, I mean two weddings in one night!) that she meets Kevin. He is instantly entertained by her efforts, and when he gets to ride the cab with her, he realizes that she is a rare species. Sure, she loves her weddings like most women- but she has met been to 27 weddings as a bridesmaid, and has switched back and forth between two weddings and two dresses in one night.
So he doesn’t return the planner she forgot on the cab until after he pitches his story idea to the editor and gets the promise of finally leaving commitments if he can pull it off. And when he returns the planner, he has made sure Jane will call him.
But for all Jane knows, Kevin is a cute albeit extremely cynical guy trying to get a date- and she is too busy trying to get over the fact that her boss falls for her sister Tess, almost as soon as he meets her. Then they decide to get married, and Kevin gets to cover the wedding.
Now poor Jane has to plan the wedding, and to face the fact that her favorite columnist is no romantic. He’s just some other guy who thinks marriage is slavery and wedding industry is out to get everyone. But Kevin charms his way back into Jane’s company since it is for “Tess and George”.
But while collecting the material for the paper, Kevin develops a crush on Jane-who has turned out to be a lot more fun and interesting than he initially thought. Jane is also starting to think he is not all bad, especially when she notices that his cynicism might be about to fact that he was once left by his wife for another guy.
But of course we have 2 conflicts for Kevin: he has to change his story before his editor can run an article that doesn’t make Jane look that great, and he has to make Jane realize that she does deserve better than just the fantasies of a guy she can’t have.
And just when Kevin might have gotten what he wanted – Jane romantically interested in him, he has unfortunately gotten the other thing he wanted: his story on the front page, his possible ticket out of the section. Of course things go horribly awry when Jane sees it. Then there is also the spoiled Tess, supportive George, Jane’s frustration with Tess and anger towards Kevin…
Yes, I know you know who will get the girl and why, but it is a worthy ride as the dialogue is a lot of fun, and the casting is just right- especially James Marsden who doesn’t annoy anyone apart from Jane-and we all know how her mind is going to change.
Ethics, Professionalism and Courtesy
But the movie’s delightfulness aside, it does bring up questions about professionalism and ethics, doesn’t it? If I were Jane, and met a very cute guy who seemed to want to hang around with me, I wouldn’t suspect that it was for a story. Even though he told her he was a writer, she didn’t know what he wrote.
And even after she knew, she thought he was just getting info for Tess’ wedding – and stayed longer for the company, though I might have been suspicious about all the pictures he took. But then again, he never wrote an article on a perpetual bridesmaids’ misfortune before so why would he start?
If I found out what Jane found out, I’d be pissed too. And if I were Kevin…well, I don’t know. I would like to think I deserve my high horse and wouldn’t write things I didn’t want to. And even if I did end up with an only chance to get to a better column, I’d like to think that I wouldn’t use anyone for it- crush or no crush.
But being stuck doing something you despise can get to your head, and if I were dumped by my spouse for a friend of mine, and forced to produce wedding article after wedding article – after going to the weddings, of course, I would probably be at least tempted. (As romantic as I am, I do agree that most weddings have the food and music to torture people. There can be no other explanation!)
Were you ever in a similar situation as Kevin? Were you tempted not to reveal your true intentions to your source/inspiration?
I know we are the writers, but what would you if you were Jane? (and she did slap him, didn’t return any calls and didn’t seem to forgive him fully after his heartfelt speech.)
My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend Writing Character: Ethan played byChristopher Gorham
Ethan is a writer who can’t get published. His last novel is turned down because it is not realistic enough where it matter (and it is also not appealing enough to women’s fantasies of Mr. Right. ) Baffled and ready to give up, he goes to a café. There he meets the beautiful Jesse (Alyssa Milano). They like each other, and she says that she is all the inspiration he needs. They start dating, Ethan keeps writing.
Unbeknownst to Ethan, however, Jesse is also dating Troy (Michael Landes) – a guy who seems to be Mr. Right personified: He is a successful advertising executive with his own company whereas Ethan is living rent free in his flat as long as he performs his super duties.
Jesse feels bad, as she starts falling for both and both men start falling for her. She will have to choose pretty soon….
The Novel, and The Movie Twist
(This part of the post features spoilers for the movie. You can read the unspoiled review for the movie on my entertainment blog.)
The movie has us believe that Jesse is a two-timing girl who doesn’t quite deserve wither of these too-good-to-be men. But as it turns out, Jesse is not two-timing. Troy doesn’t exist.
Troy is the male protagonist Ethan creates to please his publisher, who just happens to be the improved version of Ethan. And while we often see Jesse conflicted, it is never openly said that she needs to choose between two guys. As it turns out, while she has been keeping a secret from Ethan only to ensure his happiness, it is not about another man.
So Ethan doesn’t give up fighting for Jesse in the end. He also doesn’t give up writing his novel- which finally gets him a publishing deal. We learn about “Troy” the moment Ethan provides us with the manuscript called Troy Meets Girl.
A Romantic Movie with a Creative Ending, and a Fictional Writer We Can Be Inspired By
While I was rooting for Ethan the entire time (both for his book and girl), I could also totally see what the publisher was talking about. We don’t want to finish a romantic novel or a movie and say “That would never happen”. We want to say “That might happen, and I hope it happens to me”. And that is what the movie does.
Can we believe a decent guy being a writer, barely making ends meet but yet reluctant to make ends meet? Absolutely. Can we buy Christopher Gorham as a cute, albeit not gorgeous, movie lead? Definitely. And we can definitely see that his character is realistic. As sweet as he is, he is still a guy who loves Star Wars, hates musicals and can’t really see why the girls can’t get sick of Mr. Darcy.
So while it is not the best movie out there, it is inspiring, uplifting and motivating- whether you want to find The One, or make your writing dreams come true. Give it a shot- both to the movie and your writing. OK, especially to your writing.
If you liked this post, you might want to read posts from my Fictional Writers: Writer Characters in Movies, TV Series and Books category.
Straw Dogs : Creating the Perfect Writing Environment, and The Writing Retreat from Hell
This post’s writing character comes from the 2011 remake of Straw Dogs. This new version stars James Marsden and Kate Bosworth.
The Writer Character and The Perfect Writing Room
American screenwriter David Summer is working on a movie script that takes place during WW2. His actress wife Amy’s old family house in the south sounds like a perfect writer’s retreat. And it is indeed beautiful: It is big, has a gorgeous view of the lake and a wonderful study room.
Soon David transforms the room into a writer’s haven: the pool table is covered with models of WW2 houses and streets, the walls now carry a large green board for all his notes and he has even surrounded himself with books about the era. He listens to classical music as he writes- not necessarily because it is his favorite, but because it goes with his story.
The Writing Retreat from Hell
The problem is, the house is in a remote area of a small town. The house doesn’t get cell reception. I missed why they don’t have a phone in the house. Yikes.
The town folk are not very tolerant or open-minded, and soon they gain enemies without trying. It doesn’t help that David’s world views, and his wife’s behavior is enough to trigger the animals in their employees- the Amy’s ex Charlie (played by True Blood’s Eric-Alexander Skarsgard) and his crew, who were hired to repair the roof.
As great as the house and his room is, their life turns into a nightmare. They’re terrorized, and David decides to fight off their attackers one by one, even if that’s the last thing he’ll live to do. For the details on the terror, you can read my Straw Dogs movie review.
The Writer’s Story and His Life Overlap
In David’s story, a country’s soldiers beat the other country’s soldiers even though they are outnumbered.
In the end (yes-here come the spoilers), David manages to get rid of (=kill) a group of armed and irrational men with the help of his brains, and his frantic wife.
Finding The Perfect Writing Retreat in Real Life
Of course in the end, the perfect writing retreat wasn’t worth it. He and his wife were probably scarred for life.
But then again, as much as I like my lake views, I could never write alone in such a place, with just one person to keep me company, unless of course that person is Nikita or Sydney Bristow or John Reese…
But why leave the city? You can always opt for a nice holiday resort where you can be as alone as you want, and you can deprive yourself from technology only as much as you choose to for those flowing writing periods.
Yes, I often mute my cell-phone when I work. I try not to pay attention to the internet. And no, I am not always successful in turning off my distractions. But I like the fact that there can be distractions, and several ways of communicating with people outside my house.
Maybe it has a lot to do with growing up in a city, where we lock our doors and bolt them, even in the safest neighborhoods. Where there are houses and shop nearby. Where people don’t really care what you do, or what you believe in.
Or maybe it is and reading about and watching way too many “cabin-in-the-woods”, psychos-attack-ordinary-couple type of stories. But remote town houses freak me out. No technology? In the middle of nowhere? No thanks!
How do you feel about writer retreats? How isolated do you like to be while you are writing?
Would you like a cabin in the woods, or a town house like the one in Straw Dogs?
And If you have you seen the movie, what do you think Amy and David should have done?
For more writer characters, you can read:
18 Movies with Writer Characters featuring Michelle Pfeiffer, Jennifer Aniston, Anne Hathaway and More
The Writer, His First Novel and The Worst Fan Ever
David Norton (played by Timothy Hutton) is an accomplished sci-fi writer with many bestselling books under his name. He travels with his girlfriend Jane to a writing conference in Majorca where is the headlining guest. Things are pretty good, so he even takes the chance to ask Jane to marry him. Jane says yes, and the only thing that seems weird is a fan who is obsessed with David’s first book, Gloomy Sunday.
Gloomy Sunday tells the story of people who have been implemented with a trigger in their necks: as soon as they hear the melody of the song Gloomy Sunday, they kill themselves. It triggers have been placed by the government, and it is the perfect elimination method as all deaths appear to be suicides. On the night of the conference, David’s non-depressed girlfriend jumps out of the balcony after she receives a phone call. The same thing happens to a woman named Silvia, who falls out of her balcony as soon as she hears the music of Gloomy Sunday.
Apparently, that obsessed fan is a former scientist named Frank Kovak (David Kelly) who actually did something quite similar back in his day: he experimented implementing triggers in humans. But of course his studies weren’t welcome by everyone, and he was no longer funded. Then David’s Gloomy Sunday came out, and he kept experimenting with humans- making the trigger Gloomy Sunday. Now, he wants David to write the story Frank has helped create- with only one difference. Of course this time, the deaths are genuine, and what the protagonist goes through is pure reality…
While The Kovak Box is an intriguing yet not impressive movie, the story is really interesting. I’ve always been drawn to movies centering around writer characters, hence the total category on this blog dedicated to them.
Obviously, writer and deranged fan has been written before by Stephen King. Misery, anyone? But as opposed to taking an injured writer hostage, the fan in The Kovak Box makes the writer write the story he wants, and his first victim is the writer’s girlfriend
While the director and writers didn’t make the most of the potential, The Kovak Box is still recommended to Timothy Hutton fans and writers. It might while brainstorming fiction ideas. I’d not say no to a remake, with making the story tighter, darker and a bit scarier. What do you think?