Friday, July 1, 2011

Learning from The Princess Bride

Peter Falk passed away on June 23, 2011. Now, I didn't know him as Columbo, but he was an unlikely narrator in one of the best movies of all time.

You heard me. One of the very best!

The Princess Bride, like so many stories, was a book before it was a movie. I've never read it (it's sitting patiently on my Kindle TBR List), but the tale can teach writers a lot about, um, a lot! In case you haven't at least watched the movie, Netflix it tonight. If Westley doesn't capture you and Inigo doesn't move you, I don't know if we can be friends anymore.

Kidding! But, seriously...

So, yeah, three things I learned about writing from The Princess Bride. Feel free to add to my list.

1. It's all about the journey.
The beginning is very Whedon-esque. We meet the swoonworthy love interest, fall for him, and he dies.


But wait. He may not be dead.

So, we breathlessly follow the heroine as she discovers what happened to her lost love and flees her smarmy husband-to-be. Along the way, we meet a colorful cast, brave the dangers of the wild, and experience every emotion there is EXCEPT boredom. That's an emotion, right?


2. Cheesy names are fine IF the awesomeness of the story outshines them.
Would I ever name my heroine Buttercup? No! Never! BOOOOOOO! And Prince Humperdinck? Humperdinck, Humperdinck, Humperdinck...nope. Terrible. Who would ever call the horrifying creatures in the Fire Swamp R.O.U.S.'s? That's 'Rodents of Unusual Size' for those of you flipping through your Netflix queue. But I get so wrapped up in the story, the action, the adventure, and yes, the kissing that the names become awesome. So awesome, in fact, that one in particular must be said over and over.

My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father.

Prepare to die.

*shiver* ;)

3. Something conquers all, or I've wasted my time.
For Westley and Buttercup, it's Love. For Inigo, Vengeance (and also a bit of Love for his dad). Fezzik really just rhymes, but I love him, so we'll say Love conquers all for him as well. Every story has to have a reason for the journey, for the characters, for the reader to care. Something has to conquer all.

What's that something in your book? Mine's Faith. Well, Love plays a part as well. hehe Doesn't it always?

I haven't done The Princess Bride justice in this quick post, so I need your help. What did you loveLoveLOVE about this story? What lessons about writing and/or life can we take away from it? Have you ever called anyone a hippopotamic land mass?

Annnnnnnd GO!



Aleeza said...

My name's Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.

That's quite possibly the most immortal dialogue in the history of immortal dialogues. Heh. I watched the movie just some months back and I thought it was really good! What I took out of it was pretty similar to the points you mentioned.

But a really important thing I learned was: DO NOT BORE YOUR READERS. Especially since they might be very much like that sick kid in bed who the story is being narrated to. :D

Laura said...

Haven't watched this movie in YEARS so I'm going to Netflix it tonight. ;o)

Great post.

Alleged Author said...

It is all about the journey. I used to watch this movie all the freakin' time.

Carrie said...

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

LOVE this movie! A few years ago a kid came up to me in a cafe and gave me the "my name is Inigo Montoya..." line. It was hysterical :)