Everything I learned about Writing I learned from "Princess Bride"

Thought this was a fun “Gotta get writing” bit. Everything I learned about writing, I learned from Princess Bride, one of the most perfect movies ever turned into a book.

Can I write it?
“It’s possible, Pig.”

This is probably one of the most overlooked quotes of the the movie. I overlooked it when I was younger and ruined a VCR tape by watching it too many times (yes, I’m that old). It wasn’t until I met my wife that she introduced me to this quote.

Point is: It IS possible, Pig. Everything is. You just gotta want it enough. If you put in the effort…it’s possible, Pig.

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

One of my favorite lines. One I bring up in my critique groups. Don’t just whip out the thesaurus like some creepy flasher. Know the words you’re tossing around. Using lots of big words you don’t truly understand or have readily available in your vocabulary only makes you look like an idiot.

I am waiting for you, Vizzini! You told me to go back to the beginning… so I have.”

Go back to the beginning. Why did you write your story? Has that come through in your narrative? Is there an opening hook? How about a overarching motif? Once you’ve gone through and fixed all these story line issues, it’s time to “go back the the beginning”…again! This time you edit. You fix your grammar. You reevaluate every single sentence, every adjective, every filter word, adverb, speech tag, every damn word. Is it absolutely necessary? Can you say it stronger?

Love Stories:
“Is this a kissing book?”

This is a lesson I still struggle to learn. My stories have plot, but lack story and character development. So, when in doubt, throw in a love story! Think 1984, Fahrenheit 451. They have love stories in them…but the love story isn’t the point, is it? Sometimes, you just need a kissing book to help the reader along.

First Draft bliss…kinda:

“You just shook your head, doesn’t that make you happy?”
My brains, his steel, and your strength against sixty men, and you think a little head-jiggle is supposed to make me happy?”

Yes! Let that little head-jiggle make you happy! Few get to the end of their first draft. They’re too busy editing chapter one so many damn times that they don’t know which ways up or if it’s puppies or unicorns that don’t exist. 

Create Suspense:

“Westley didn’t reach his destination. His ship was attacked by the Dread Pirate Roberts, who never left captives alive. When Buttercup got the news that Westley was murdered…”

“Murdered by pirates is good.”

Pirates and murder. Princess Bride is actually all about the love story. But our young Fred Savage wouldn’t have sat still, sick or not, if it was JUST “a kissing book.”

Make something bad happen. Make your character want something so bad you can taste it. And, yes, I meant YOU. Who gives a shit if your character can taste it. She’s your character. You can make her taste blueberry pancakes while licking greasy pavement in downtown NYC. Crafting flavors into your writing for you and reader? There in lies the challenge (a little Clerks reference Easter egg for ya). 

Make more bad things happen. The more your character wants/needs something and the further they get from that want/need, the faster your reader is going to flip through the pages. 


“Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”

At the end of the day, it all comes down to persistence. If you say “This is too hard” or “I’m waiting for my muse” or “I need to be a better writer before I start writing,” you will NEVER write! And you certainly won’t ever get better at it. 

Write. Write every damn day. Even if it’s some stupid blog post nobody will ever read. And when you’re not writing, you better freaking be reading! For all those ninnies out there who say they have no time for reading. 

No read, no write (little Barrington Moore reference for the one other human to know the original quote). 

If Inigo Montoya gave up after he had his face slashed and watched his father eat it right in front of him, he never would have succeeded in avenging his father’s death. And it took him 20 years to do it!!!!

I’m not suggesting you avenge anyone’s death (or am I)? You can’t write if you don’t write. 

Now, if you’d excuse me, I’m going to go watch Princess Bride again.

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