The best writers in films

Last week, we talked about ten of the best fictional writers on television. Which of course got me thinking about some of my other favorite fictional writers. The writers portrayed on the big screen. Because of course, people love talking about what they’re passionate about. And what writers are passionate about, more often than not, is writing. 

Today, I’m bringing you the top seven best portrayals of writers in movies. Some of them are funny. Some are scary. And some made me bawl like a baby. But all of them are great examples of flawed people trying to do the same thing we’re trying to do; craft stories.

Secret Window

Starring Johnny Depp and based on a short story by Stephen King, Secret Window is the story of a writer named Mort Rainey looking for some peace to write his latest book. This quiet is destroyed by a man named Shooter, who insists that Rainey stole his short story. Rainey desperately tries to prove that he didn’t commit plagiarism, while Shooter stalks him through town.

I honestly think being accused of plagiarism is scarier than being accosted by some hayseed in a wide-brim hat. I adored this movie. And I thought the ending, unlike some of King’s other endings, was truly satisfying. 

Orange County 

Starring Colin Hanks and Jack Black, this is the hilarious story of a young writer named Shaun, desperate to escape his dysfunctional family. He goes through a series of hilarious hijinks with his brother and girlfriend, trying to get him into a writing program at Stanford. 

If you’ve never seen this movie, it’s a great time. And of course, it discusses the very real issue of whether or not to attend higher education. 

The Shining

Of course, I was going to be talking about this one. It’s not the first Stephen King story on this list, and it won’t be the last. It is, perhaps, the most famous. 

Do I even need to summarise this story? Jack and Wendy, and their son Danny, spend the winter at a hotel as caretakers. This is every writer’s dream, and Jack is a writer. He thinks he’ll spend the whole winter writing his novel while making some easy money.

Of course, that amount of quiet and isolation is often the last thing a writer needs. It’s also the last thing a struggling alcoholic needs, especially when his spirits are replaced by, well, spirits. 

Dead Poet’s Society

(Note. This movie deals with teen suicide.)

A good teacher can make all the difference in a young person’s life. Especially the life of a young artist. Such is the case with John Keating, played by Robin Williams. He inspires a group of teenage boys to not only read poetry but to care about it. To care about their own writing as well. Keating reminds them, and us, that a poem is not a dry dead thing. It is a moment in time, an emotion, a spark, captured in words on a page. 

It’s a passionate movie about living for what makes you feel alive. 

Moulin Rouge!

Yes, I do love this movie, and not ironically. Is it a good movie? No, not really. Is it a really fun movie with a wonderful soundtrack and a fun main character? Yes, yes it is. 

Christian is a writer looking for work. He wants to write a play for a dance club called the Moulin Rouge. Its star is a woman named Satine, who is dying of consumption. Through his writing, Christian makes her last days magical. Even as he struggles to protect her from the evil Duke. It’s full of music, wild characters, and absinthe. It is, I think what a lot of us thought the writing life would be like, full of drugs and interactions with wild artists. Spoiler, it’s actually full of coffee and editing manuscripts while turning down social invites because you’re on a deadline. 


This will be the last time I talk about Stephen King in this post, I swear. But you know I had to talk about Paul Sheldon, Annie Wilkes, and Misery. 

Starring James Caan and Kathy Bates, this is the terrifying tale of an obsessed fan who saves her favorite author from a car crash. All is going fine until she finds out he’s going to kill off her favorite character. Then, things get not fine real fast. 

On one hand, I love the thought of having someone obsessed with my writing. On the other hand, I hate the idea of having someone that obsessed. Either way, it’s a dark and gruesome tale, told well. 

Also, Kathy Bates is a queen. 

Finding Forrester

This is easily my favorite movie about writing of all time. It stars Rob Brown and Sean Connery. This is the tale of a reclusive writer who is, frankly, an asshole. Through a series of events, he starts mentoring a young writer named Jamal. 

A lot of topics are discussed here. Racism, of course. Poverty, and how it impacts the opportunities of young people. When it is and is not okay to approach a famous person. In the end, though, it’s a story about a friendship built on a common passion. A passion for writing. If you’ve never seen it, go watch it right now. It is incredible. 

Now, I want to hear what you think. What is your favorite movie about a writer? Let us know in the comments. 

Paper Beats World is free to read, but it’s not free to make. If you can, please consider supporting the site on Ko-fi. 

The best fictional writers on tv

Writers like to write about writing. I do, as I’ve been posting about it here since 2014. So of course we do get fictional characters that are writers. Even though watching someone write isn’t exactly thrilling. I get why more stories are about athletes, politicians, space captains and ghost hunters. Watching them do their job is a lot more fun than watching me do my job.

And yet, some shining and relatable examples of writers on tv do exist. So today, I want to talk about my top ten favorite fictional writers. 

Diane Nguyen, BoJack Horseman

Diane is, like most of the characters on this show, a hot mess. But she’s a hot mess of a writer in Hollywoo, so she is clearly failing upward. Through the course of the show, she’s a biographer, a movie consultant and a magazine columnist. I would love those jobs!

More importantly, she struggles with actual writing problems. Remaining honest and relevant, and working in a field that claims to value creativity while forcing it to bow to focus groups.

Rick Castle, Castle

This isn’t the most realistic interpretation of a writer I’ve ever seen. But there were some really fun writerly moments in the first few seasons of Castle. Especially in the first few episodes, Castle plays a weekly game of cards with some real-life writers we might recognize, including James Patterson, Dennis Lehane, Michael Connelly and Stephen J. Cannell.

I also love that the series starts with a murder based on one of Castle’s books. I think a lot of horror and mystery writers worry that our work might inspire real-world pain. 

Another thing I loved was that the book Castle is working on isn’t done in an episode. That writing process is an entire season long. And the book isn’t released until partway through the next season! That is some realistic writing time.

Nathan Fillion as Rick Castle

Liz Lemon, 30 Rock

The insane workaholic main character of 30 Rock is loosely based on Tina Fey’s time working at SNL. And yes, writing for a weekly live show would be insane. Liz struggles to balance the wishes of corporate, the actors and her fellow writers, more often than not dropping all the balls she’s trying to keep in the air.

I love any time the characters are in the writing room, working together on scripts. I love the depiction of characters editing until the wee hours of the morning because that feels so relatable to me. And I love that Liz both loves and hates her entire creative team. 

Hannah, Reboot

Reboot was a recent show that only got one season on Hulu. From what I understand, the creators are looking for a new home for season two. I hope they find one.

Hannah is the main character. She wants to reboot a sitcom, making it more modern and relatable. Her father created the original show and has a certain amount of creative control. They battle constantly over hiring writers, managing actors, and crafting storylines. It’s old-school comedy writing blended with modern television sensibilities, finding the best and worst of each other. 

Of course, Hannah is also writing through her very real anger about her dad abandoning her as a child. We all write our demons. Even if we say we don’t, we all end up writing about what hurts us the most. Even if we have to turn it into a punchline. 

The cast of Newsroom

Newsroom was what I wish every news channel in real life could be. I wanted to narrow down just one writer on the show, but honestly, they’re all great. From their professionalism, dignity in reporting, and respect for the work, they are heroes. I honestly wish all news was reported by people like this. 

These writers were willing to go to any length to tell the truth. To tell the news. My favorite example of this is in the episode Amen. People’s lives are really on the line in this one, and everyone is aware. It’s a great example of what kind of danger journalists can find themselves in. 

Bart and Lisa Simpson, The Simpsons

Bart and Lisa have been writers in several episodes of The Simpsons. In an early episode, they start writing for Itchy and Scratchy but have to put Abe (Grandpa) Simpson’s name on their scripts because they’re too young. 

Lisa has also written essays that won awards. She’s a dedicated journal keeper. She is, I think, what we all aspire to be as writers, but can never quite reach. 

CW Longbottom and Ian Grimm, Mythic Quest

Video game writing is an ever-growing field. And much like tv writing, video game writing is a group effort. Being in a group of creatives is a hard thing when everyone thinks they’re smarter than everyone else in the room.

Ian and CW work together to create playable storylines. And CW is a little too proud of his Nebula award. He’s generally a little too proud of his writing, which comes up in a flashback episode that brought me to tears. 

Tina Belcher, Bob’s Burgers

Tina Belcher writes some cringy stuff, man. Uncomfortable sex scenes, wish fulfillment with her crush, weird scenarios involving zombies. And I am in awe of her for it. 

Tina is a writer who writes for the joy of it. She fills up notebooks frequently with her friend-Rodica series and is having the time of her life doing so. This is what every young writer should be doing. Writing what you want to write just for the fun of it.

Jessica Fletcher, Murder She Wrote

Who didn’t grow up admiring Jessica Fletcher and her prolific typewriter? She was funny, smart, and a bit of a workaholic. And she managed to take every bit of her life and use it in her cozy mystery series. It is truly a joy to hear her typewriter click. 

Angela Landsbury as Jessica Fletcher

Rob Petrie, The Dick Van Dyke Show

Rob was maybe the first tv character I ever saw who was a writer. And as a young person who was just starting to understand that someday she’d have to grow up and make money, he had a real influence on me. 

You could grow up and write stories. Well, I guess someone has to write them. Even better, there was a girl in the writing room, and she was just part of the team. 

So now I want to hear what you think. Who is your favorite fictional writer on tv? Let us know in the comments. 

Paper Beats World is free to read, but it’s not free to make. If you can, please consider supporting us on Ko-fi.


Emotional Support Stories

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At the start of 2023, I was not in a good place. I’m doing better now. It was just a bad case of seasonal depression. But I decided to manage my depression by diving into my emotional support book series. 

Series of Unfortunate Events. 

It’s a long series, I’m still reading it. Currently reading the Grim Grotto. As a side note, you can always follow along with what I’m reading on Goodreads and Bookbub.

All that being said, I wanted to talk a little bit today about emotional support content. It’s been trendy on Instagram recently to share your emotional support content, and I am down for this. As always, I love that people turn to stories in times of darkness. We can always find light between the pages of a book.

Or other mediums, honestly. I have several emotional support shows, like The Good Place, Schitt’s Creek and Futurama. 

So, we already know that good fiction can brighten our lives when we feel dark. But why do we have these specific stories that we come back to over and over again? Wouldn’t a new story be a better distraction? I mean, I know what’s going to happen in every Unfortunate Events book. Can it engage me enough? Wouldn’t it be better to read something new, like finally getting into Sarah Mass or reading Wheel of Time like my husband has been trying to get me to do for years?

I took some time to think about it. While I was thinking, I also paid attention to how I was emotionally reacting to the new content I was consuming. And I realized something. Certain stories were making me sad because they reminded me of some of the very real traumatic events in my past. Things that are still hurting me today.

Yes, I could avoid content that might trigger these memories. Except, sorry to say, trigger warnings don’t work with trauma. Because you don’t always know what’s going to trigger your trauma.

Some things are clearly going to be impactful. I knew going in that things like Stephen King’s The Outsider was going to be upsetting. I did not expect a random episode of Agents of Shield to trigger me. I knew Inside Out was probably going to be hard. Didn’t expect Encanto to make me bawl. 

A story doesn’t have to directly relate to the cause of your trauma to remind you of your trauma. So, unfortunatly, any piece of content could potentially upset someone.

Okay, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop reading, watching or listening to new things. I love new stories. And realistically, we are never going to live in a world where we are completely safe from memories of our past. I personally don’t think we should even try to, because I’m a big believer in shadow work and healing from my past.

But that work, my friends, is exhausting! And we cannot, should not do it all the time. So yes, there are times when we should fall back on our emotional support series. 

I know how I’m emotionally going to respond to Unfortunate Events. There are no surprise triggers waiting for me. I can enjoy a story and give my emotions a rest. 

Emotional support content doesn’t need to be uplifting or happy. Though my shows certainly are. The only requirements are as follows. 

You’ve experienced the story before.

You know that your emotional reaction to this story will be positive. 

So please, if you have a friend who is watching Parks and Rec for the fifteenth time, don’t judge them. They might just need a break. 

I would love to know what your emotional support content is. Please let us know in the comments. 

It’s Read an E-book Week

Hey, everyone. I’m just jumping in here to tell you that it’s Read an E-book Week on Smashwords. 

E-books are a super convenient way to read for people like me who don’t have a ton of places to keep books in their tiny homes. And while I love my physical books a lot (like, maybe too much) there are a ton of reasons e-books are cheaper, more convenient, and overall a pretty good time. 

And now is a great time to grab a bunch of e-books at a great price. Because of course, Read An E-book Week means a bunch of them are on sale. Like, for instance, my books. 

Like You Can’t Trust The AI, Virus, Station Central, Twelve Little Christmas Stories, and Quiet Apocalypse. 

If you’re a fan of space adventures with a dash of political intrigue, you can check out the Station Central series. 

If you’re looking for a haunted house story with a witchy witty main character, you should check out Quiet Apocalypse.

And if you want to grab some Christmas stories that range from heartwarming to horrifying, you can grab Twelve Little Christmas Stories. 

Of course, it’s not just my books. There are thousands of e-books available on Smashwords. 

Let me know in the comments what books you scooped up during the sale. 

Creativity Burnout, focusing on the results, not the journey

So far in this series, we’ve talked about fighting creative burnout in a world that’s difficult to survive in. We talked about fighting it in a world that feels like it’s on fire the majority of the time. And we’ve talked about fighting it when the problem is your project. Now we’re at the final post in this series, so it’s time for me to call myself out. (At least, it’s the final post in the series for now. I am open to doing more in this series if there’s a specific creative burnout you’d like me to cover.) Today, we’re talking about my biggest writing weakness. Focusing too much on the results, and not enough on the journey.

So, what do I mean by this? I mean two things, both of which I’m susceptible to. One, we worry too much about meeting self-imposed deadlines. And two, we worry too much about how the work is going to be received.

Let’s look at the two problems separately. 

First, the self-imposed deadline. Deadlines are a beautiful thing, and I certainly encourage every writer to have them. Without a deadline, it’s far too easy to put off writing for all the other things clamoring for our attention. So when I start a writing project, I set what I think is going to be a realistic deadline. Then, I add another week past that. 

Even this is sometimes not enough of a cushion. Because things happen. Some days I can’t work at all. And sometimes the project takes more time than I think it will, thanks to rewrites and freewriting. 

The best thing to do here is not to get rid of deadlines altogether. But instead, see them as flexible. Rather than rushing and putting out poor content, it’s better to give yourself and each project the time it needs to be what it deserves to be. 

However, knowing this and putting it into practice are two different things. And I can tell you from experience that it’s freaking hard when there’s so much pressure to remain relevant. It often feels that if I’m not putting a new book out, a new blog post, a new podcast, a new short story, or a new something you all who read my work are going to forget about me.

These are the demons that whisper to me. I bet you have a similar demon. 

But let’s think about this, without the stress demon whispering to us. I know that I don’t forget about my favorite authors, not even when it’s years between books. When Tamora Pierce comes out with a new book, you want to believe I will buy that sucker. The same for a litany of other authors. 

And the same is true for content creators I follow online. Lisa Jacobs, one of my favorite marketing people, vanished for several years to pursue a corporate job. When she decided to come back to the online marketing space, I was pumped! I bought one of the first courses she offered. 

Also, it’s been years since season two of Limetown. If they came out with season three in 2026, I’d still be there to listen unless I was dead. 

So, I don’t forget about content creators even after they take long breaks between projects. Why should I assume that those who read and listen to my content won’t do the same? 

Next, let’s talk about the fear of how our work will be received. I don’t know a single writer who doesn’t worry that their work isn’t going to sell. This is another demon that likes to whisper to us. No one’s going to buy your book. No one’s going to listen to your podcast. No one’s going to read a long-winded blog post full of too many tangents and stamp collector hate. 

Every single creator has those thoughts. And the scary thing is, they might be right. There is every chance that a creative project might fail. 

If you let those thoughts get into your brain, it might stop you from writing altogether. It might also leave you spiraling, going over your work over and over again, sure that it’s never good enough. Sure that this line will be taken wrong, it’ll offend someone you never meant to offend.

If I may be totally honest with you, I almost didn’t publish Quiet Apocalypse, because I was scared to death that people would think it was anti-abortion. Just in case anyone has that concern, IT IS NOT ANTI-ABORTION. 

This spiral worry that the story isn’t good enough, or that it’ll be taken the wrong way can mean death for your writing. It can drown you. 

What’s the solution? Write for yourself. Write content that you enjoy, and that you would want to read. Write what makes you happy. Because yes, there’s a possibility that you might be the only one who reads it. So you might as well like it. And remember, creating art just for art’s sake is still awesome. It’s still more than a lot of people do. And I have said over and over that writing is its own reward. 

But here’s the great thing about that. You’re going to produce your best work when you like what you’re writing. When you’re having fun writing, it’s going to be more fun to read. 

So take your time. Write what you love, and don’t worry about how it will be received until later drafts. That’s when your marketing brain can come into play. And I think you’ll be surprised to find that the work you did while you were having fun is pretty damn good. 

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