I was talking to a friend of mine who I went to see 300 with the other night. Both of us haven't written a word in the past months and felt pretty guilty about it. But after seeing the movie, which I loved, I needed to write something. The story I started didn't have anything to do with ancient Greece or anything, but I had that itch. I pounded out over 1000 words yesterday and called my buddy. He had the same itch and did 1400 words.

Does this happen with everyone? Do you see a really great movie (or read a really great book or listen to a really great album) and feel the need to write?

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Oh yeah. Could be something from any medium. THE BIG LEBOWSKI seems to work for me. Also the album THE HOLY BIBLE by Manic Street Preachers. And here's a link with 300... any SIN CITY books tend to get me itching for the keyboard. It's hard to find an actual piece of lit that consistently inspires me to write. The medium is a bit too close to home, if you see what I mean. That's not to say I'm not reading all the time. But sometimes I'll read something and go "Ha, that's so shit! Maybe I can do it after all..."
I totally agree with you about books being too close to what I do. If a book is really bad, I feel down about the medium; but if the book is really good, I don't think I could come close to matching it. So, books only inspire in the long run, not immediately.
I started my first novel after reading Hemingway's "For Whom the Bell Tolls." It was in the sixties and I just got through voting for Elridge Cleaver for President. I was a young radical, ready to change the world with my prose.

The movie "Chinatown" put me back at the typewriter some years later. That film knocked me out, made me really want to write mysteries.

Sorry I'm such an old geezer and can't contribute something newer, but at least you can see you are right--works of art do inspire other artists, I think.
Come on. What Robert Townsend did in Chinatown was amazing. It should be taught in every writing class. A lot of people frown on using movies as examples in teaching writing, but a lot of those people are too snooty for my taste anyway.
Freudian slip, Steve. You meant Robert Towne. Robert Townsend wrote Hollywood Shuffle.
The only problem with using Chinatown is that (according to an article I read), it was a complete mess at first. Polanski and Towne wrote out the scenes and taped them around the wall of the room, and if I remember my trivia correct, the script was way way too long and didn't end anything like it ultimately did in the movie. They spent a while (I want to say 'weeks' but it might not have been that long) sorting out and rearranging the pieces until they finally had what ended up on the screen. I think it's a good one to use as a tool in a writing class as long as the teacher also emphasizes the editing aspect, the shitty-first-draft-to-the final stellar gold journey that story went on, because otherwise, first-time writers end up having an unrealistic expectation of what can be accomplished in first-draft.

Um, I'm off topic, sorry.

Yes, seeing movies inspires the hell out of me. Great books, too, particularly if they're not in the genre I'm currently writing, because they're generally looking at the world differently and it forces me to think outside the box, or better yet, elminate the box.
No, I meant Robert Townsend's Chinatown. The one with Keenan Ivory Wayans. :)

Yeah, Polanski and Towne definitely clashed on that movie, especially the location of the ending. Chinatown, to Towne, was a metaphor, while Polanski believed they had to set the ending in Chinatown. But the screenplay that is published (as with most) is in synch with the film. I think a lot of movies, books, etc. were probably a mess at one time or another. Look at Casablanca or Tootsie.
Good movies actually provoke a physical reaction. I sometimes stop paying all attention to the movie and begin to think about a story. One I;m writing or something new. I've missed a lot of movies and episodes of The Wire because of this. I'm not really explaining it well. Does anyone else experience this?
And it certainly happens with a good book too but less dramatically cause I just put the book down.
See, the opposite happens to me in terms of writing. There are times when I overanalyze a book by looking at technique rather than being able to enjoy it. The same happens with films when I start to admire the editing or cinematography. Maybe artistic people are incapable of just enjoying a piece of art.
You should go on e-bay and find the issue of Scenario Magazine that has the Get Shorty screenplay in it. It is the ultimate example of minimalism in storytelling. Scott Frank is an extremely talented screenwriter.
Scott Frank must be a fan of Elmore Leonard's, too, because he used so much of the book. Many direct lines. Did you guys ever hear the story how Elmore wrote that book because he was pissed at Dustin Hoffman?
Another ridiculous pair of great tight screenplays to read: ALIEN by Dan O'Bannon (it's all haiku and "Bruen triplets") and the adaptation of William Hjortsberg's ANGEL HEART by Alan Parker (it's seriously like reading hard-boiled pulp in Final Draft).


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