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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Good movies -- or, movies that I like -- often re-remind me of what I'm trying to accomplish and why I even bother. The definitions of "good" vary. A good flick inspires or encourages me to raise the bar. Or it'll make me stop trying too hard and be more loosey-goosey. It may affirm that I'm on the right track. It's also a prime procrastinatory tool.

I watch certain movies endlessly to remind myself of the fundamentals. Two are "Jaws" (the trio of characters on Quint's boat in the last act is a master class) and "The Hunt For Red October" (the best illustration of dense full-on exposition through dialogue that doesn't seem like it's doing it). These movies honor my etched-in-stone rules: Show don't tell; character = action; get in late + get out early; setups/payoffs.

Depending on what I'm working on (genre-wise) I'll watch stuff I want to emulate (or steal). It also helps to find out what's been done before so you know how to steal correctly.

And if I'm in a groove, when my writing is going decently, I many times refuse to see a movie, afraid that something about it may leak bad habits by osmosis and tox me like Chernobyl. OR that it'll be so genius that it'll render me mute. Unfortunately, 300 is that "potential bad habits" movie for me currently. Instead I did an end-around and caught ZODIAC and THE HOST, which were both great for my brain and confidence.
I really want to see The Host. The Hunt for Red October is a great example. I really think in some ways using movies is like a short cut when you are learning storytelling.
I've been inspired by some movies, but only ones that have percolated in my mind for some time, or that I've watched multiple times. The results are never sudden.
Oh, for sure. The best is when a great movie gives me nightmares (or dreams, but I write horror, so mostly nightmares) and I can just work off of those.

SILENCE OF THE LAMBS has been good for YEARS of stories. Truly.
Inspiration's where you find it. For me, movies will get me going, as will music, photos, random people on the street. I get a lot more out of music, than movies, actually, but what really gets me charged is just being around and having conversations with other writers.
I totally agree with you about conversing with other writers. After every residency of my MFA program, I hurried home and wrote like crazy simply because I was excited about talking about the craft.
Funny you post this now...

Last night I was watching an old Rockford Files rerun (what a great show) and one dialogue exchange between Rockford and a woman planted a little seed in my head.

By the end of the episode it was like Miracle Grow. I had this scene and not one, but three different characters. It was all pretty cool, but that was it.

I went to bed and after thirty minutes of lying there, I had the crime.

I stayed up until 2:45am writing.

In the past I've been inspired for specific stories by HK cinema as well as the films of Peckinpah and Melville.
Movies tend not to inspire me, simple reason is that I love to write crime but enjoy watching horror. I get inspiration from music. I'll hear a really great song or maybe just a lyric and it will get me writing again.


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