Shows and Movies to Inspire Writers

Need some inspiration to get you started on your next piece?


When I’m writing, trying to write, or stuck not being able to write, I often need some inspiration. This inspiration can often come from reading my own writing or the work of my favorite authors, but for me reading is a time-consuming endeavor. I like to sit down and read for as long as possible, which can often engulf hours of my time. But, when I need to get some writing done, nothing keeps me “in the mood” like movies or television shows about writers writing, that I can play or binge watch and simply zone out while I get some work done. Sometimes the writing can play a small part, sometimes it’s the major plot point, while other times there is no writing at all, but a writer struggling with their own demons that compel them to write or are derived from their writing.

In the grand scheme of things, there are A LOT of movies and shows about writers, but (at least for me) only certain ones give me that “I’m ready to become a prolific (or struggling) author like that guy,” feeling. Here is a list, in no particular order, detailing some of the most inspiring television shows and movies about writers and their writing that inspire the hell out of me.


  1. A Fantastic Fear of Everything mv5bmtyznju3ntawof5bml5banbnxkftztgwnti5mdy5mde-_v1_sy1000_cr006781000_al_
    1. Simon Pegg stars as a troubled crime novelist who has become a paranoid agoraphobic after his extensive research into Victorian era serial killers. It’s funny and clever, and it’s Simon Pegg. Enjoy.
  2. Author’s Anonymous
    1. Kaley Cuoco and Chris Klein star opposite one another in a tale about the varying “types” of writers (who’ve formed a weekly writer’s group), all with different motivations and commitment, but all with the same dream. What this story does best is show that not all writers are the same and exposes how inspiration and dedication to the craft can often go unrecognized due to societal expectations and industry bias.
  3. The Words
    1. A star-studded cast features Dennis Quaid entertaining an audience with his fictional tale about a young author (Bradley Cooper), who finally finds success in his writing after finding and publishing an aged manuscript that wasn’t his own. Could Dennis Quaid’s character be regaling us with a piece of fiction with autobiographical roots….?
  4. Bag of Bonesbag_of_bones_miniseries
    1. Following the death of his wife, a published author (Pierce Brosnan) retreats to his cabin in a small lake-town, where he soon receives paranormal visitations, is drawn into a strange custody battle, and must learn a secret about his own bloodline that will haunt him forever. A lesser known Stephen King adaptation.
  5. The Secret Window
    1. Another Stephen King classic about a writer (Johnny Depp) dealing with presumably false claims of copyright infringement by a deranged and violent psychopath who stalks him wherever he goes.
  6. Misery
    1. One of the most recognized of Stephen King’s adaptations, Misery follows the story of a renowned children’s author (James Caan) who is rescued from a car crash only to find himself held hostage by a psychotic super-fan (Kathy Bates) who’s not afraid to get a little rough to keep him around.
  7. Stranger Than Fiction
    1. Stranger Than Fiction was a tale I thought I would hate because of my rash assumption that anything serious Will Ferrell stars in must be garbage. I was pleasantly surprised by the quirky narrative about a man who hears a woman narrating his everyday life, revealing how the simple act of resetting his trusty watch would result in his imminent death.
  8. Midnight in Paris
    1. Another tale I thought would be ruined by the actor playing the protagonist, Midnight in Paris follows Owen Wilson as a screenwriter who, upon visiting Paris, finds himself mysteriously transported to the 1920’s and is even given the opportunity to meet with some of the most prolific author’s from that time.
  9. Castle
    1. After a serial killer recreates a murder from one of his novels, the author (played by Nathan Fillion, one of my favorite actors) is allowed to tag along on the investigation, resulting in a semi-serious crime series like Law & Order, but with a light, literary feel.
  10. CalifornicationCA_S1_GI113915SC_V2_HR
    1. One of my all-time favorite stories about a writer, Californication follows author Hank Moody after the success of his first novel, who must work on his follow-up while dealing with fatherhood, vindictive relationships with the love of his life and other various women, and a critical need to indulge in sex, drugs, and rock and roll. All of which usually get in the way of his writing and being a good father.
  11. Hector and the Search for Happiness
    1. Another Simon Pegg tale about a psychiatrist who finds himself in the strange place of telling others how to be happy, when he himself far from it. His life isn’t a bad one, just a bit mundane. On a whim, and at the risk of losing his job, his wife, and life as he knows it, makes the decision to travel the world to discover what makes people happy, hoping to find out what will bring himself happiness. While the plot is predictable, his journey is interesting, awe inspiring, and motivating enough to embark on your own search for happiness.
  12. Generation Kill919burer6kl-_ac_ul320_sr228320_
    1. An odd addition to the list, but Generation Kill is an enthralling HBO series following a reporter for Rolling Stone Magazine as he is embedded with a platoon of 1st Recon Marines over in Iraq during the 2003 assault on Baghdad. This is by far one of the most intriguing tales simply because of its splendid melding of fleshed out characters, the seriousness of war and the toll it takes on soldiers, and the hilarity of those soldiers simply doing their best to cope with the shitty situations they often find themselves in. Stay Frosty.

Honorable Mentions:

In this respect, an honorable mention is a movie or series based on a book, but doesn’t have to be about writing. Those types of fiction inspire me because I find myself analyzing each line and scene, asking myself “How would they have written that?” and “How would I have written that?” Here’s a few of the endless honorable mentions:

  1. Fight Club
  2. The Shawshank Redemption 
  3. Goodfellas
  4. The Lord of the Rings Series
  5. The Harry Potter Series
  6. The Shining 
  7. Dexter
  8. Game of Thrones
  9. Full Metal Jacket
  10. Sherlock (BBC)

 

Now, go out there, get inspired, and write something damnit!

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To Episode One…and Beyond!


From my experience, and that of other published writer’s I know, one of the most common questions readers, friends, and family ask is: “When’s your next book coming out?” While this question is inherently harmless, sometimes it can feel like your work has been cheapened. But it can also do something else, it can also be motivating. While I’d prefer people ask me about my current work, thinking about what I’ll be writing in the future is an exciting prospect. “What’s next?” is a question I ask myself every day, which can be disheartening when you simply don’t know the answer.

That point is one of the numerous reasons why I wanted to do an episodic series. I’ve had a few people ask me: “Why do short stories instead of another novel?” Well, the answer to that is simple. I’m not. I’m doing short stories, or a series of short stories while I’m working on my next novel. For some writers, they need to focus on one project and see it through until the end. That’s an admirable way to ensure your work is of the highest quality before you move forward. At the same time, I’ve seen that take a very long time to complete a project. Me personally, I have a bit of writer’s ADD. I’ve been experiencing and telling stories my entire life; I can read books quickly (when I sit down to do something other than writing and actually focus), I binge watch seasons and movies in quick succession, and I’m a multi-screen-tasker.

What all that means is that, for me, working on my next novel (that could potentially take a very long time to finish) is all well and good, but I need something for when my attention shifts, when my mind gets bored of staring at the same page for hours while editing, or for when I get so frustrated at my writer’s block that I want to hurl my laptop through the living room window. But, I think we all know that wouldn’t solve my problem, would it? So, I divert that pent-up energy. I shift my focus to something completely different to stir the creative pot and get the metaphorical gears spinning again. I have to do this. I want to do this. But that might raise issues of quality vs. quantity. I can pump out a lot more content than a few other writers I know, but how do I know that I am not sacrificing quality by doing so?

“The first draft of anything is shit.”

~Ernest Hemingway

Simply put, I don’t. To be entirely honest, when I power through a project, I do so to get a first draft done as quickly as possible. I need those bare bones, that foundation to build upon, and when I go back and re-read it, it’s usually riddled with poor grammar, misspelled words, and ridiculously obvious plot holes and inconsistencies. But that’s just the first draft, you all (the readers) don’t get to read that pile of garbage. I spend, in my own opinion, way too long rewriting and editing even the shortest stories before I even consider it something worth publishing. As you can imagine, with “full-length” novels, that takes a God-awful amount of time to do. I have been working on a science fiction novel since before the release of The Drive Home and I’m somewhere in the eight draft and I’m still scraping off all the worthless bits. It’s a long process and if you’re not careful, you could put something out that casts a grim assumption over your future work.

Which finally brings my back to my actual point and the question…well, in question. Why work on an episodic series while I work on my next novel? I’ve put together a collection of answers covering some of the most prominent reasons:

  • First and foremost, as I mentioned, it keeps me focused and keeps me writing. With each piece I write I am thinking ahead, planning for potential release plans, thinking about where it fits around the novel I’m working on. And that gets me back to wanting to work on that big novel project. Which lets me provide something for readers to enjoy while I make headway on that forthcoming novel.
  • Secondly, it allows me to play with form and presentation. It keeps me guessing and experimenting, even when I think I know what the hell I’m doing. A novel can be a one-off project, or, it can be a series of epic novels. Short stories are similar, in that one can stand on its own or it can be part of something bigger. But episodic, that’s something different. You have to further the over-arching story with each episode and further the character arcs while leaving enough out to intrigue readers to pick up the next episode. All in a small number of pages. It’s a delicate process. You have to think ahead, not just to the next episode, but to every episode, including multiple seasons, if you’re so inclined.
  • I’m a new and, hopefully, rising author. Why should someone pick up my full priced novel if they’ve never heard of me before? Or never read anything I’ve written? With any episodic series I pursue, I’ve chosen to make the first episode absolutely FREE. Like with my current series, For a Ghost-Free Time, Call, the first episode introduces readers to my characters, my story, and my writing at no risk to them. This gives readers the opportunity to experience the story and decide for themselves if it is something they would enjoy. This also provides me with the opportunity to hook the reader and convince them to pick up the next episode. If I’m not convincing you to pick up episode two when it gets released, I’m not doing something right and that gives me the chance to improve my writing for the next one. It’s a learning process.
  • Working on an episodic series also helps improve my abilities as a publisher. I’m improving my knowledge of the process through Smashwords and Kindle Direct Publishing. For each new episode, I’ve decided that I would like to make a fresh, yet simplistic cover to assist with convincing readers to continue with the series. By deciding this, I’ve been able to improve my abilities as a digital artist with Photoshop. I would love to be able to assist fellow writer’s with the publishing process, cover creation, or any aspect of creating written works. Hell, that’s what Emerald Inkwell is all about. That’s why we’ve chosen to brand ourselves as a “PNW Publishing Community.” We want to help independent writers get their work out there just like we’re doing for ourselves. So, if I can improve my skills with Photoshop and help a friend throw together a unique cover for their work, that motivates me. What can I say, I’m a “helper.” With For a Ghost-Free Time, Call’s first episode cover (pictured below) I wanted a simple cover that got the point across and related to the content in the writing. Much like you might see for some of Stephen King’s books (also pictured below). But since that first cover design I’ve been working on my abilities and I look at my W.I.P., sample covers for episode two and three, I find them much more visually intriguing than the first episode cover. Which gives me ideas for a future “updated” cover for that first episode. I’m learning. And that excites  and motivates me further.
  • The final thing I’ll touch on that I find great about the episodic format is that it is inexpensive for the reader and allows me to work on something that is “full-length” over time. So far, the episodes of “Ghost-Free Time are around 45 pages each, give or take. Once each season is finished, I look forward to offering a full season collection or a series collection, depending on the longevity of the IP. And if each episode is approximately 45 pages a single season collection could range from 275 to 400 pages. That’s a lengthy novel right there. So, while currently writing in a short story format, each episode is the catalyst for something larger.

So, if you were to ask me again: “Why work on an episodic series instead of a full-length novel?” I would kindly direct you to read the above, but I would simply respond by saying two things. 1: Because I can and I enjoy it (that counts as one, calm down). And 2: I’m not only working on an episodic series. I’m actually working on that “full-length” novel you’re asking for while providing you with a steady stream of content to keep readers entertained and to keep myself writing. And, in the end, when all is said and done, that’s all I really want out of all this. To keep readers entertained and to keep myself writing. And that sounds damn good to me.


Episode Two is on the way soon! Pick up Episode One to catch up before it drops!

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Salt piles, iron fire pokers, and Ghosts tend to go hand in hand!

National Tell a Story Day!

America is filled with obscure holidays and random reasons to celebrate, but a number of them are near and dear to me and my passion for storytelling. On top of that, certain holidays even have the potential to do something good, if not great. National Tell a Story Day is one of those days that truly has the potential to do some great in this world.

Things like illiteracy and shortened attention spans have ravaged recent generations (mine included) and finding those who enjoy reading is becoming more and more difficult. Years ago, I nearly fell into that bottomless pit. Not because I didn’t know how or because I hated reading, but because the world of entertainment has been evolving so drastically that other things would snag my attention and my bookshelf started to collect dust. Instead of picking up a book, I’d watch a movie or play a video game–all valid ways to indulge our human need to tell and be told stories–but it took something away from my imaginative process. It wasn’t nearly as gratifying as creating a new world in my own mind, simply based on a few words on a page.

While National Tell a Story Day is based on the Scottish and European equivalent in October, America’s version takes place six months earlier in the year. It encourages all forms of storytelling written, verbal, visual, fiction, non-fiction, whatever! And it should be celebrated more widely.


National Tell a Story Day is the American counterpart of the Scottish and UK holiday of the same name, but is not to be confused with World Storytelling Day. World Storytelling Day is a celebration of the art of oral storytelling, helping keep the traditions of passing stories down through the generations. World Storytelling Day takes place on March 20th, a little over a month prior to National Tell a Story Day.


In honor of today, April 27th – National Tell a Story Day, I took steps working with my publisher to put together a limited time offer based around my debut novel The Drive Home: A Tale of Bromance and Horror. So, for all the world, right now, you can pick up the kindle edition of The Drive Home absolutely FREE. Boot up your Kindle device or app and hunt down The Drive Home on Amazon! If you’ve read it, now you have it on-the-go and can read it again with ease wherever you are. Or, if you’ve yet to read it, you’re in for a treat and can then tell someone else about it, in honor of today. The special will run through the end of April and will hopefully help someone discover reading or at least read something fun that they’ve never read before.

So, get out there and tell someone a story today. Read stories, watch, write and enjoy as many of them as possibly today. This is what the human mind craves, telling and being told stories. Few things can make you feel and “live” like a good story can. I hope you all enjoy the drive and a few great stories today.


National Tell a Story Day SpecialTDH-FB-COVER

April 27th – April 30th

The Drive Home: A Tale of Bromance and Horror, Kindle Edition

Price: FREE. 100% FREE!

 


What other holidays are out there for writers and storytellers? Are there any specials or events taking place today that the world should know about? Let us know below in the comments–or tell us a story!

Those Nagging Feelings: The Debut

Recently, I published my first novel: The Drive Home: A Tale of Bromance and Horror. Immediately friends and family were showing their support, near and far, those closest to me and those I’ve not seen in years. It is truly an amazing feeling. However, there’s an underlying fear clawing at the surface, striving for my attention.

“What if my book sucks?”

“What if my friends find every little thing wrong with the novel?”

“What if some internet troll decides to tank my novel with a 1-star review when the book’s actually good?”

These are just a few of the million nagging thoughts passing through any writer’s mind as they write a novel. And they’re all valid points. I’d like to use my debut novel as an example to inform and maybe even inspire someone in the same situation as me. A while back I began writing a blog titled The New Writers Journey, check it out if you’re interested. What I was hoping to do with that blog was follow my process from wanting to write a book to one day accomplishing that goal. It was an “amateur” blog in my eyes, which is what I wanted it to be. But there’s a difference between The New Writer’s Journey and the Sean K. Novels site. Experience. In the time I began writing that blog and my novel, up until now, my writing has grown, I’ve published my first novel and I’ve done a lot in regards to the creation of a novel. With the time and effort, and the experience gained from it all, my outlook on the points raised above has matured too.

The prospect of putting your work out to the world is intimidating, to say the least. How do you get over that feeling? In my honest opinion, you don’t. There were, however, a few factors that lent themselves to dealing with the pressure. The first being that you spend so much time working and re-working a project—be it a book or painting or video game code—that you arrive at the realization that because it’s yours, it’ll never be good enough. It didn’t take long to write the initial draft of my novel, but it took years to re-write, edit, add and subtract content. I soon realized that I will always find something I could do differently, whether for better or worse. You have to come to a point where you’re happy with your work and put it out there to be judged, nagging thoughts be damned.

“But what if what you wrote actually sucks?” you ask?

Well, to be perfectly honest, it might, but how are you supposed to know that it sucks if you don’t put it out there; if you don’t get feedback. I hope everyone who reads The Drive Home has something to say, good, bad, or ugly (hopefully not ugly). There’s no problem with constructive criticism. I love constructive criticism, hell, I thrive on it. How is my next book supposed to be any better than the last if no one tells me their brutally honest (FYI, brutal honesty is something I’m going to cover in another post) opinions? There is a difference, though, between constructive criticism and someone who just posts “this sucks” and nothing else. Screw those guys, but we’ll go ahead and address them too. The way we handle those people is what separates us from the rest of the pack. If someone gives you good feedback about a character or grammar issues, let ‘em know “Hey, thanks. I appreciate it and the next one won’t have that problem.” That will entice them to check out your next novel too and give you a reason to keep improving.

Those trolls, though. How do we deal with someone who just says “this sucks”? Confront them too. Say “Really? Any constructive criticism you can give me?” If they’re anyone who matters, they’ll give you something, and you win. If they don’t ever respond to your inquiry, people will see that you cared enough to find out how to improve your work and that the guy who said “this sucks” has no evidence to back up his claim, and you win anyway.

The moral of the story is growth. Gain the difficult ability to learn from your mistakes and you won’t care if you misspelled a word or your grammar is childish—well, you will care, but you’ll know how to use that to fuel your next endeavor. If your audience sees that you want to grow and you can tell a good story, they’ll want to enjoy the ride as they watch you grow from an amateur writer to a professional wordsmith. No matter how well you think you did on something, you never know how the public will respond to it. It’s how you take that input that really shows what kind of a writer or artists you really are. Which is why I encourage feedback. Even though I stand by and love every single word, comma, and semi-colon I wrote, that doesn’t mean I can’t do any better. Even if the world thinks it’s the greatest thing since the toaster; I can do better. I love the story of The Drive Home. It was fun to write, fun for me to read a million times, and I got to really know my characters. And as cheesy and irritating as it sounds, that really was all that mattered to me. Yeah, everyone wants to make a living doing what they love, but you can’t let the bullshit weigh you down. If you enjoy what you’re doing, then just…do that. I know that’s what I’m going to do. If you’ve got something constructive to say, say it. Give me the opportunity to outdo myself. I dare you.

Welcome to Sean K. Novels, a New Journey

Welcome, everyone, to the Sean K. Novels site. For those of you who know me, and some of you who don’t, you know that I recently published my debut novel: The Drive Home: A Tale of Bromance and Horror. With that release, I wanted to have an outlet to explore writing and the process of creating a novel. The title, Sean K. Novels, is a tag I’d used for social media (@seanknovels & facebook.com/seanknovels) and thought I’d continue with it as a  blog identity.

I began writing a blog some time ago TDH-FB-COVERtitled The New Writer’s Journey that I hoped to do something similar with, but lacked the experience or the focus to continue writing under that banner. Which is why I wanted to do something new; a clean slate to really focus on all things writing. Like things that I came across while writing my novel. Things like editing problems, interesting writing concepts or styles, character development ideas, and the creation of a physical novel itself.

With some of the posts I’ll be writing I hope to bring up topics that can give some insight to those looking to follow the same path as myself and countless other authors. There have been so many times during the creation process that I thought, “well, how do you do this?” So, I would Google search for hours trying to find answers. Hopefully, I can keep you from having to binge on Google with regards to certain subjects and keep you writing longer.

There is something you should all know, though. I have no degree or extended study in my fields. Not only will I be using this blog to explore writing and editing concepts, but I’ll be using this to help my writing grow as well. To grow in the scope of this blog, but to also continue growing as I work on my fiction writing and a storyteller. So, let’s walk this path together and grow as writers and creative thinkers.

With that, all I have to say is:

Cheers!

Sean K.