I read some writing…advice? Or commentary? Or something like that years ago that pointed out how often amateur writers will create Protagonists who are writers. If I'm remembering correctly, this was expressed as a bad thing, probably because it's overdone. On the one hand, they say write what you know, but on the other, I think this kind of thing can come across as lame, cliche, or a Stephen King ripoff.
For my part, I don't take a firm stance on this one. Having a writer Protagonist is an easy default when thinking up a story, so that's something I try to be aware of - and I don't think I've written many or any stories starring writers – but sometimes it's the right move. It all depends.
In any event, I was thinking about some of my favorite stories starring writers…in no particular order, then…
Once a very well known classic, this might not have the mainstream awareness these days. Which is great - definitely give it a read or a watch! The book is very good; the movie starring James Caan and Kathy Bates might be better. A Stephen King story that features not just a writer, but a celebrity writer, something obviously in King's wheelhouse. A grim little story more about the dark side of celebrity than being a writer - but there's a lot of writing being done in this tale. For a unique, unsettling story, check out this cockadoody movie!
THROW MOMMA FROM THE TRAIN -
The night was moist. Not a strong beginning. A dark comedy directed by Danny Devito, this one is a hidden gem. Always was under the radar, but is almost completely unknown these days. Which is again, a great thing for a viewer to be able to experience. A blocked writer who teaches a fiction class at a community college gets mixed up in a Hitchcockian murder scheme. My favorite Billy Crystal performance, along with the legend Danny Devito and Ann Ramsey as Momma. Full of quotable lines and dark hilarity.
One of my all-time favorite films. The story of a screenwriter, struggling to adapt a novel about orchids. Also the story of the novelist herself, and the eccentric redneck who's the subject of her novel. This one again runs to the dark side, but the performances, unusual plot and multiple povs, and some of the greatest meta fiction moments ever (“God help you if you use voiceover narration in your movie!”) make this something special.
Many books and films have featured writer main characters - some barely touch on the writing part, and the hero just says they're a writer and is neurotic. It can help have a Protagonist who's not stuck in a regular job, and once again, writing what you know. I can't think of any that feature a real workaday writer or screenwriter who's good at getting it done, that way actual successful writers do it. Jack Nicholson's character in As Good As It Gets is one, as is James Caan in Misery, mentioned above.
And since we're webcomic creators here, it would be nice to make a list of webcomics about webcomic creators - but I don't know any. I'm sure there are tons of them, though! As for great movies with comic book creators in the lead - I don't think there are enough. I could count the ones I know on one hand - Chasing Amy, American Splendor, Cool World… all worthy. But there ARE no other that come to mind, so I can't do a “best of” list. No way am I going to do a Newspost discussing Monkeybone! xD
Do you like or dislike writers as lead characters? Ever written one? What are your faves and least-faves?
Have a good one!
Banes at 12:00AM, June 24, 2021
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