Writing Tip — When Frustration Leads to Inspiration

manw-390339_1280Some movies are great, some movies are terrible, and some are fixer-uppers. It’s the fixer-uppers that inspire me the most. These are movies with some good bones — good direction, good acting, or a good script. But I find something could be better, and I like the movie well enough that I’m frustrated it doesn’t succeed. That’s when frustration leads to inspiration.

Star Wars: Attack of the Clones is a fixer-upper for me. My husband and I watched this in the theater while we were dating. It was much better than The Phantom Menace. Watching tiny Yoda face-off against the towering Christopher Lee, one of my favorite villains, in a light saber duel was worth the price of admission. But I sense a missed opportunity, and so my imagination took off.

Because Clones was the second movie in a trilogy, I though it should mirror The Empire Strikes Back, the second movie in the first set of Star Wars films. Senator Palpatine could instruct Anakin in the dark side of the Force, doing the flip side of what Yoda taught Luke.

Another movie I thoroughly enjoyed was Leave No Trace (2018). This wonderful movie, about a traumatized U.S. veteran and his teenage daughter living off the grid in the Pacific Northwest, succeeded on so many levels: acting, directing, casting, and more. What let me down were the final, few scenes. I thought the father’s action didn’t ring true with how his character acted during the rest of the movie. Because I like it so well, I analyzed why I felt those scenes didn’t work and what the screenwriters could have done to achieve the same ending in a way that made more sense for the characters.

Exercises like this give my imagination a work out. It helps it stay sharp when I tackle my own writing. I keep in mind the lessons that I’ve learned from watching fixer-upper movies, such as when I write a scene, and the words or actions of a character sound as wrong as an out-of-tune piano. I know I’m not writing about him or her in a consistent way and must go back and fix the scene.

Sometimes a movie frustrates so much, I want to take its scenes and work them into one of my stories, just to prove to myself that I can be written differently.

What movies have you found frustrating? How would you fix them?

8 thoughts on “Writing Tip — When Frustration Leads to Inspiration

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  1. I don’t know if you’re a Marvel watcher, but I found “Infinity War” frustrating- some of the character choices, and some of the emotional beats just fell flat for me. Even though “Endgame” had more plot points that I could have picked apart if I wanted to, the “feel” of the story worked better for me. All Star Wars except for the original three have “fixer” moments for me. 😀 Yeah. I’m picky about movies. Finding one I love “as is” is huge treat when it happens.

    1. I haven’t watched many of the Marvel movies because I figured out the plot of the first Avengers movies in the first twenty minutes. I was so disappointed. You’re right. Finding a movie that completely satisfies is rare, and worth a celebration when we do.

  2. I would fix movies that have endings that you don’t really get to know what really happened, those kind of movies frustrate me because you are waiting for something to happen , and then the movie is over, pretty frustrating to me. Thank you so much for this very good blog! You help me see different things in a different prospective. :)God Bless you.

    1. I hate open-ended conclusions, too. Most of the time they don’t make sense. Maybe the writers had run out of ideas, and they thought by not tying up the storyline they are being daring or artistic.

  3. It was nice to read this post. Well addressed liked it. The movie I would fix is Inception. Inception has an open ending. It makes me wonder like is the protagonist still in his dream? I got really into that movie that I have watched it three times in a row. Keep sharing your thoughts!

  4. Interesting. I’ve thought about books in this way but never movies. I either like them or don’t. A fixer upper is a middle category. Hmm. Now that you’ve brought this to my attention, I’ll likely find a bunch.

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