Writers in Movies and TV Shows

They say to write what you know, and since writers tend to know about writing, it’s no surprise that many of them write about writers. Stephen King, for example, made the main character of his second book, ‘Salem’s Lot, a writer, and was so taken by the idea he repeated it in The Shining. And It. And Misery. And The Tommyknockers. And The Dark Half. And Desperation. And The Regulators. And Bag of Bones.*

So it seems strange, given that writers know about writing, how often their fictional counterparts in movies and TV shows seem to bear little resemblance to real writers. Below are the ten worst myths about writers promoted by writers themselves.

1. Writers write about their own lives under a thin veil of fictionality. As seen in Castle, Her Alibi, Shakespeare In Love, Secret Window, Wonder Boys, Sideways, The Night Listener, Back to the Future.

What’s that? You can’t come up with a story? You have writer’s block, you say? Well then, shamelessly plumb your life and relationships for whatever dramatic payoffs they can provide. Because there’s no such thing as fiction: there is only real life with the names changed.

The grain of truth: If the roman-a-clef or autobiographical novel wasn’t an accepted form of literature, Armistead Maupin wouldn’t have a career – Gabriel Noone in The Night Listener is the author in all but name (Noone – no one – mind blown!).

The reality: All writers plunder their lives for ideas – a mannerism here, a turn-of-phrase there – but writers of fiction tend to write, well, fiction. If they didn’t, there’d be no Animal Farm, no Harry Potter, no Lord of the Rings, unless I missed the class at school that dealt with Middle Earth, Hogwarts and talking pigs. I once heard someone say that if your first novel is autobiographical, you’re probably going to struggle writing a second, and I tend to agree. You can’t make a successful career writing about writers all the time. You can? Oh. My bad.

2. Writers do one draft, and then they’re done. As seen in Murder, She Wrote, Romancing the Stone, Misery.

How do you write a novel? Straight through, of course. You start at the first page and keep going until you reach the last. That’s all it takes. As soon as you’ve typed The End, you hand it to your publisher and bang! Another bestseller.

The grain of truth: Anne Rice, the author of those vampire novels your girlfriend loved as a teenager (joke), once said that the worst advice she ever received was that writers should expect to write and rewrite and change every sentence between the first draft and the finished product. I guess sometimes, for some people, it just clicks.

The reality: Expect to write and rewrite and change every sentence between the first draft and the finished product. Even if you edit as you go, the first draft is never a fait accompli. Your agent might suggest revisions. Your editor definitely will. The proofreader will undermine all your assumptions about your grammatical abilities. And then you’ll have to change the ending. A lot of the time, you’ll want to change it yourself. I have no idea how people used to write out novels by hand – I can’t write for thirty seconds without hacking up all my sentences and reorganising my chapters. I would be utterly lost without a computer. Speaking of which…

3. Writers use typewriters, even after WordStar 4.0 made them obsolete in the late 80s (that’s a George RR Martin reference, y’all). As seen in Wonder Boys, Love Actually, Stranger Than Fiction, Ruby Sparks, the ‘Crazy Train’ episode of Modern Family.

You want to be a writer? Then you’d better bust out an old typewriter that takes non-standard sized paper and ink-ribbons they don’t make anymore. It’s not writing unless you’re clacking away like the guy in the studio logo at the end of The A-Team. (The pipe, sideburns and roll-neck are optional.)

The grain of truth: Writers can be a superstitious lot who cling to the past. They can also be pretentious as hell. I’m not saying writers like Tom Wolfe and Danielle Steele, who use typewriters, and Neil Gaiman and Amy Tam, who write by hand, are in that category. But in the words of the latter, ‘Writing by hand helps me remain open to all those particular circumstances, all those little details that add up to the truth.’ Draw your own conclusions.

The reality: Even Jessica Fletcher upgraded from a typewriter to a computer during Murder, She Wrote, and Cabot Cove was hardly a forward-looking place. Computers are just easier to use and provide greater functionality for authors – you can’t run spellchecker on a typewriter, or Find and Replace, and how are you going to email it to your agent? Sure, there’s something romantic about typewriters, but it’s the story, not what you write it on, that’s important. EL James wrote Fifty Shades on a Blackberry, for crying out loud. Hmm. Maybe that’s not such a great example. But if you write hard copy, you’re setting yourself up for so many unnecessary difficulties. Like…

4. Writers keep losing their work. As seen in Wonder Boys, Misery, Love Actually, Little Women, DOA.

Oh no, the maid moved my paperweight/my agent crashed the car/that psycho woman has brought me a barbecue and a match, and now my novel has blown into the lake/blown into the river/burnt to a crisp! Why didn’t I make a copy? Oh woe is me.

The grain of truth: None. At least, not these days when we all have access to computers, scanners, photocopiers. Seriously, who does this?

The reality:  Any writer with half an ounce of sense makes multiple copies of their work. It was 1922 when Ernest Hemingway lost a suitcase containing all his Juvenalia, and if people haven’t learned their lesson from that example, maybe they should rethink whether they have the brainpower for writing. Or walking. Or breathing. Jees.

5. Writers are rich and famous. As seen in Castle, Murder, She Wrote, Basic Instinct, Her Alibi, The Royal Tenenbaums, Californication, Romancing the Stone.

Want a quiet life of anonymity? Don’t become a writer. Once you hit the big time, you won’t be able to travel to the local shops without being recognised, mobbed by fans, and/or accosted by adoring members of the opposite sex, even if they’re not the kind of people who read your genre, or books in general, or in fact anything. But it has its up sides, what with all the groupies, Ferraris, gala events, society parties, award shows and second homes in the Hamptons. Oh, and it can even help you out of a sticky situation when your sister gets kidnapped in South America (looking at you, Jean Wilder).

The grain of truth: Stephen King gets his face about, and Terry Pratchett was hardly low-key in that hat. And James Patterson, the highest-paid author today, makes around £90 million a year, which buys shedloads of Ferraris, I imagine.

The reality: I have read dozens of books by Jeffery Deaver. Dozens by Simon Scarrow. Dozens by Douglas Reeman and his alter ego, Alexander Kent. But you could put those authors in a line-up and I wouldn’t be able to pick them out. And I’m actually into books. The reality is that unless you’re a TV personality in addition to being a writer, the only place you’ll get mobbed by adoring fans is a pre-arranged book signing. And the various estimates of average fiction author earnings are around $60,000/£45,000 a year, which, considering the top authors are pulling in tens of millions each year, means most authors don’t earn enough to buy a new sofa, let alone give up their day jobs and go to exotic locations to write their novels. On that note…

6. Writers go to exotic locations to write their novels. As seen in Misery, Secret Window, The Shining, Love Actually, The Jewel of the Nile.

Do you write at home? Do you have a desk? Well, you’re doing it wrong. Writers don’t write at home – they go off to some picturesque log cabin or abandoned hotel or expensive yacht and they write their novel in a burst of isolated activity. Because writing is an adventure, right? And it is always, always glamorous.

The grain of truth: Some writers probably do this. Libby Page quit her job and moved to Paris for six months to write her debut novel, The Lido. And some people convert their sheds into writing studios, which are kind of like cabins, though less likely to have their own jetty.

The reality: Writing is a hard, laborious, and often thankless job, but it is a job. Most full-time writers treat it as a job, working office hours in the home study. Those who aren’t yet able to give up the day job (see Point 5, above) have to squeeze it in wherever they can, JK Rowling famously working on Harry Potter in a cafe while her kids were at school. I mean, this post has been written over the space of a week on a Kindle, mostly late at night in bed after the kids have gone to sleep, but also in a doctor’s waiting room, in the bath, and on the toilet. It’s not glamorous, it just is. Next.

7. Writers write heavy-going purple prose. As seen in Wonder Boys, The Night Listener, Stranger Than Fiction, Atonement, Ruby Sparks, Finding Forrester.

(In James Earl Jones’s voice): Fiction writing is never light. Fiction writing is dark, heavy; painfully self-aware and profoundly intellectual. It is read in a deep, solemn tone in a room with too little lighting, a fitting backdrop to the seriousness of its subject and the gravitas of the author’s literary pretensions. It always tells, never shows, as it grapples with the tortured soul of the artist, delving into the inner reaches of man’s psyche until, without so much as a ‘how’s ya father’, it disappears up its own arse quicker than a Saturn V leaves the launch pad.

The grain of truth: Yeah. We’ve all read books written in an overly ponderous style that screams ‘I’m important!’ from the very first page. They tend to win awards, appear on Top 50 lists, and I normally only manage about 100 pages before throwing them into the corner because I’m sick of waiting for the story to start.

The reality: There are as many types of writers as there are colours on a sunny autumn afternoon in the country. Writing isn’t all about probing the nature of the human condition – it’s about whatever people like to write and what others like to read. My wife’s favourite books are about women who open cupcake shops or bed and breakfasts; I like books about giant space ships getting torn apart by hell-lances and null-field projectors (Jack Campbell, sir, I salute you). The movie writers might think that privileging literary over commercial fiction makes them look clever and sophisticated, but it actually makes their  characters seem really pretentious and boring, whereas if they were science-fiction writers…

8. Writers straddle the line between genius and insanity. As seen in Stranger Than Fiction, Finding Forrester, The Shining, Secret Window, Wonder Boys.

If you want to be an amazing writer, you had better hope that you’re also amazingly crazy. Great works of literature are not written, they are forged in the fires of psychosis, substance abuse, mental illness and emotional breakdown. Strangers will think you a little bit odd, but the true believers will understand – you are at your most creative when your hold on reality is crumbling like a rather dry fruitcake.

The grain of truth: Some writers are nuttier than a nut in a nut roast, and their literary genius is inseparable from their insanity. Sylvia Plath, Edgar Allan Poe, Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway and Philip K. Dick are names that spring to mind.

The reality: For every Jack Kerouac or Hunter S. Thompson, there’s a workaday wordsmith churning out reliable romantic action adventure thrillers. And your level of sanity has no bearing on the success or otherwise of your creative endeavours. You can be insanely good like John Steinbeck, without being actually insane – as far as I’m aware – or you can be insanely bad like Barbara Cartland while being…well, let’s just say the wrong side of normal, shall we? I mean, writing 723 novels is pretty darned special, but when you consider that’s one book a month, every month, for sixty freaking years, you have to wonder where that kind of drive comes from.

9. Writers don’t actually write. As seen in everything featuring a writer ever.

Damn, writing is an easy gig. You hang out with friends, police officers, celebrities, criminals; go to parties, award ceremonies, cruises, holidays; solve crimes, fall in love, reconnect with your kids, murder your family. You have so much free time, you don’t know what to do with it. In fact, the only time you ever sit down to write is when you’re just finishing something, or when you’re completely blocked and staring at a blank sheet of paper with a wistful expression on your face. You never actually have to write.

The grain of truth: None, unless you’re rich and successful enough to contract out your writing to ghost writers who do all the hard work for you. And if you suffer from writer’s block, get over it, there’s no such thing.

The reality: I wrote a post called Real writers write because, well, real writers write. If a movie is about a firefighter, I expect to see him fight a fire; if it’s about a serial killer, I expect to see him kill serially. Is it too much to ask to see a writer actually write? Now, I know what you’re going to say – in a visual medium it’d be boring seeing someone sitting at a desk writing for half an hour – but can they at least acknowledge that writing takes place? There’s never a ‘Hey, do you want to come for a drink?’/’No, I’m busy writing,’ or, ‘Haven’t seen you for a few days.’/’No, I’ve been chained to my desk trying to hammer out my Act Two climax.’ They could even do it in one of those turgid voiceovers: ‘I’d been writing for weeks, ten hours a day, and hadn’t seen a soul in all that time. I’d started to doubt my story, doubt myself. I wondered if I would ever finish, or if the novel would consume me.’ But no – writing is either a party or you’re blocked. That’s it.

10. Wannabe writers are just awful. As seen in Wonder Boys, Sideways, Sliding Doors, Henry Fool, Atonement, Becoming Jane, Ten Things I Hate About You, Family Guy.

I’m a writer, don’t you know, yes, a writer. Do you want to read my novel? Read my novel! Have you read my novel? What did you think? What did you think!? How about the new ending? Did you really read it? Why does nobody read my stuff? My work is genius. Genius! You just don’t understand it. The world isn’t ready to appreciate my greatness. God I’m terrible. I’m a complete loser; a fraud; nobody understands me. Get a job? No, you keep paying the bills, I’m far too special to get my hands dirty. I’m a writer, damn it, a writer! I’m as good as James Joyce if you’d only give me a chance. Oh why won’t you give me a chance? I’m a writer! Love me! Love me!

The grain of truth: Actually, this one’s pretty accurate.

The reality: Yep. We really are that awful.

* * *

So, what do you think? Are there any realistic writers in movies and TV shows?

All joking aside, I think Wonder Boys has a lot of good things to say and I can definitely see some of myself in the struggling protagonists of Sideways and Henry Fool (excepting the alcoholism and sexual deviance)I just hope I’m not too much like Brian Griffin.

See you in the comments. (Read me! Validate me! Tell me I matter!)

 

*And Lisey’s Story. And Secret Window, Secret Garden. And The Body. And The Breathing Method. And 1408. And The Road Virus Heads North. And Word Processor of the Gods. And Umney’s Last Case. Did I miss any? Probably.

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Literary vs. Commercial Fiction

‘An author ought to write for the youth of his own generation, the critics of the next, and the schoolmaster of ever afterwards.’

F. Scott Fitzgerald

The distinction between high-brow and low-brow – between obscure and popular, or unprofitable and lucrative – is a source of tension and insecurity in all fields of the arts. Among writers, however – people who tend to be sensitive and pretentious at the best of times – thinking too much about this distinction can cripple your creative output and tie your mind in knots. The impact it’s had on my writing career has been profound.

When I was eighteen, I proclaimed to all and sundry that I would not be going to university, as expected, and instead would become a writer.

‘You won’t be able to support yourself,’ snapped my A-level English Literature teacher in front of the whole class. ‘I know many writers – they all have other jobs. The only way to make money is to write pulp.

She practically spat the last word, the implication being that dusty high-brow literature is somehow more worthy and honourable than low-brow, yet popular, commercial fiction. It is better to be Marcel Proust, writing a ginormous book that next to no one has ever read, than churn out formulaic hit after formulaic hit like Clive Cussler.

‘Well I’m going to write quality fiction,’ I replied, in my arrogance believing myself to be the next Ian McEwan or Sebastian Faulks. To my teenage self, that was the compromise, the dividing line, between my literary pretensions and my pecuniary ambitions – something that would keep my English teacher happy but would be successful enough to buy me a little apartment in Richmond.

And so I spent years trying to write ‘quality’ fiction. I fell in love with the idea of the sophisticated literary intellectual, and started wearing trendy scarves and sewing elbow patches onto my suit jackets. I was adamant that writing was an art form, an expression of the intangible essence of the heart. And that was why everything I wrote was plotless, navel-gazing, self-indulgent pap that was so boring, even I didn’t want to read it.

When people suggested that I study the craft of writing, I scoffed – art can’t be taught, I said. I saw the distinction between literary and commercial fiction the way a sculptor sees that between a statue and a chair. One is created by an act of will, the artist wrestling an image from out the marble as he pours himself into a work that will stand before others as a testament to the divine in man; the other is created by a craftsman in a workshop for people to sit on. And fart on. And use for firewood if he gets cold.

In truth, I wanted to be special. Our society has elevated the artist to the position of mythical genius, and denigrated the craftsman to a manual labourer. Learning the craft of writing seemed to imply that anyone could do it, and if that was the case, there was nothing special about me at all.

I gradually came to realise that such a view of writing – dividing fiction between literary and commercial, worthy and worthless – between art and craft – is not only the result of ego and insecurity, it’s also utterly wrong.

Writing is both an art and a craft. In the same way that painters, no matter how ‘artistic’, have to learn the basic techniques of holding a brush, applying paint with different strokes, understanding perspective and creating balance, so writers have to learn the fundamentals of the craft. Character, setting, structure, pace – inciting incidents, pinch points, climaxes – these are not things that block our intuitive connection with the Muse, they are the fundamental building blocks of writing. And how you use these tools is down to you as an individual.

I also realised that the literary/commercial distinction is pretty arbitrary anyway. Whenever I go into a bookshop that has a literature section separate from the general fiction section, I’m always amazed by the titles the staff have deemed to be ‘literature’. And who is to say that literature has the monopoly on big ideas? I’ve found profound, life-changing notions in books of all genres, from horror and science-fiction to fantasy and crime. It doesn’t matter what you write, so long as you write it well.

My advice to all aspiring writers out there is to forget about whether you’re writing literary fiction or commercial fiction and just write what feels right for you. I spent far too long writing as somebody else instead of writing as me. I like writing stories with a high body count, lots of explosions, and enough guns to start World War Three. It took me forever to realise that there’s nothing wrong with that.

Real writers write

I am a writer. If you’ve seen Wonder Boys, you might groan in response to such a statement, filled as it is with a mixture of pretension and self-aggrandizement, but it is undoubtedly and unashamedly true. I am a writer.

Granted, I’m not a particularly successful one, but I write, and therefore, I’m a writer. In my life I’ve met dozens, if not hundreds, of wannabe writers, and I’m often asked how to become a writer, as though there is some secret formula to making all your dreams come true. There isn’t. It’s startlingly easy to be a writer.

The only thing that separates a wannabe writer from a real writer is that real writers write.

So many times I’ve seen people in cafes with their laptops on the table in front of them, chatting away as the cursor flashes unnoticed on the screen; so many times I’ve been drawn into conversations about three-act structure and character arcs and pivot points and the hero’s journey; so many times I’ve heard people introduce themselves as writers, as though they’re James Joyce or Graham Greene; and so rarely have I ever met anybody who actually writes.

It seems so simple to me. From the age of four, when my favourite programme was The Littlest Hobo, I started telling people that when I was older, I was going to write books. Then, when I was eight, I started typing out stories on my mother’s old typewriter, telling people that when I was older, I was going to write books. And then when I was twelve, I had an epiphany – I was already older, so what was I waiting for?

The Case of the Samurai Kidnapper was the first ‘book’ I wrote, a 32-page abomination about a ninja assassin and the husband-and-wife FBI agents hunting him down. I followed this with a novella about a platoon commander in the Union Army during Sherman’s march through Dixieland, and then an adventure story about an archaeologist discovering an ancient conspiracy to hide advanced technology from the world at large. It didn’t matter that they were awful – they were the first tentative steps towards my goal and they taught me a truth that has served me well all my life:

Wannabe writers talk about writing; real writers write.

The fact is, it’s easy to talk about writing. It’s easy to sit around and think about writing, to work out the details of character and plot, research your setting, establish your theme. What’s really difficult, and what so few wannabe writers actually do, is sit down and write.

Because writing is hard. It takes discipline and commitment. It’s thankless and it’s lonely. You get stuck inside your head and the white screen mocks you. Everyone else is heading out to parties or lying asleep in bed while you’re sitting at your desk hammering out the finer points of something nobody might ever read. You take jobs that aren’t too taxing so you can write in your spare time. You put the kids to bed then write into the wee small hours, knowing each moment of lost sleep will make tomorrow that much harder. But you do it anyway, because you are a writer, and that’s what it takes.

I worked out a few years ago that in the fifteen years since leaving school I’d written over two-million words of creative writing. I’ve written eight full-length novels and half-written countless others, completed two non-fiction books, hundreds of short stories and several screenplays. This amounts to tens of thousands of hours of effort and sacrifice, practice and false starts, improvement and editing, success and failure.

If you want to be a writer, the only thing you have to do is write.

A lot of wannabe writers make excuses about their lack of output. Everyone knows someone who says they’re going to write a book some day – well why not today? Many people claim they lose interest and can’t finish anything they start – well if you want to be a writer, you have to keep working on it. And the worst thing of all, so many people say they don’t have the time to write – but there is always time to write, if you truly want to.

I read a great line somewhere that I think is very true, something like: ‘If you don’t write when you don’t have the time, you won’t write when you do.’ Who cares if there are dishes in the sink? Go and write. Who cares if the lawn needs mowing? Go and write. You need to motivate yourself to write whenever and wherever you can squeeze it in, or else you never will.

You have to be committed, disciplined, obsessive, sometimes selfish and maybe even a little mad to be a writer, but that’s the lesson for all wannabe writers out there: how do you stop wishing and turn your dreams of being a writer into reality? In one easy step.

Real writers write.

The Passive Protagonist

A few years ago I wrote a novel about the Nazis, told from the German perspective. The main character was a Gestapo bureaucrat intimately involved with the administration of the Holocaust. Instead of countering or resisting the horrors unfolding around him, he acquiesced, following his orders and dutifully going about his work, even as he struggled to justify it. I depicted his increasing brutalization, his attempts to remain human as those around him turned into monsters, and his devastation at ultimately confronting the results of his involvement with the regime.

The novel was meant as an exploration of the ordinary Germans who found themselves caught up in an ideological war that set patriotism and duty at direct odds with morality. It was about the propensity of individuals to absolve themselves of responsibility by claiming to be a small cog in a big machine, culminating in the realisation that it is only by the work of the small cogs that the big machine can operate. All it takes for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing, and all that. Heavy stuff indeed.

I researched it to within an inch of its life, polished it to a sheen, and when I sent it out into the world, I had the best response I’ve had for one of my novels. The consensus, however, was that while it was well-written, challenging and thought-provoking, I had fallen into the trap of many would-be novelists: I had written a passive protagonist, and as a result, despite many interesting scenes, the novel didn’t work as a whole.

My question, then, for all the readers and writers out there is this: Can a passive protagonist ever work? And can you think of any famous examples?

In its simplest, general sense, a protagonist is the work’s main character – the person we follow because it is their story. Elizabeth Bennet, Horatio Hornblower and Kurt Wallander are obvious and indisputable examples. But in the more specific, literary sense of the term, the protagonist is the character that drives the action by making choices. Their estate might be entailed away; they might sight overwhelming numbers of French warships sailing over the horizon or discover a prominent Swedish politician has been scalped; but how they choose to respond to these situations is what makes the story. They have goals and they work towards achieving them, and the protagonist is therefore always active. They don’t simply allow things to happen to them: they make things happen and shape how they happen.

Imagine if the main character of Pride and Prejudice was a cook who simply watched what unfolded without having any power to influence events. If she was simply an observer instead of a participant, and if removed would not affect the outcome of the story, it would be legitimate to ask why we are following the cook when the novel is about the growing love between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy. But what if the novel wasn’t about the love affair between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy, but the impact of that love affair upon the cook? Would a passive protagonist, in that context, be okay?

I can think of several instances of passive protagonists in works of fiction. The unnamed narrator in HG Wells’ The War of the Worlds, and the Tom Cruise movie of the same name, seems entirely reactive, simply running from the alien threat until eventually (SPOILER ALERT) the aliens die anticlimactically from earthbound pathogens. While I don’t find the ending at all satisfying as a reader, the passive protagonist fulfils his purpose since he exists merely as the means for the author to suggest a scientifically-realistic outcome to an alien invasion. The human aspect of the story, and characterisation, is incidental and unimportant.

In the opposite way, Paul Theroux’s The Mosquito Coast effectively utilises a passive protagonist in the form of the book’s narrator, Charlie Fox, who is swept along through events that he cannot control or influence by his father Allie. It is clearly Allie Fox’s story since he drives the plot, but what is key is that the novel is not so much about his increasing madness but the effect of that madness on his family and in particular his son’s opinion of him.* Indeed, telling a story with a passive protagonist is an effective means of conveying the emotional and psychological impact of adult behaviour upon children.

This is especially evident in LP Hartley’s The Go-Between, in which the story of an illicit love affair is told from the viewpoint of Leo, the boy who delivers their love notes. As an innocent, naive and easily-influenced child, he is in no way in charge of events, and the novel is as much about the destructive effect of Ted and Marian’s manipulation on his development as it is their secret romps. Passive protagonists can therefore tell the engaging stories of the people around them as well as explore the wider ramifications of those stories.

What is important to stress, however, is that neither Leo nor Charlie Fox (nor my Gestapo bureaucrat, for that matter) remain passive throughout. While they are caught up in events beyond their control for most of their respective novels, the decisions they finally make bring about the climaxes of their plots. Is it fair, then, to call them passive protagonists, even if they spend 90% of the time simply reacting in the stories of other people?

Here’s what I think overall. Passive protagonists might be a big no-no when writing straightforward, plot-driven narratives, but when exploring ideas and delving deeply into the emotions of situations, they can provide context, texture, interest and insight. I remember loving Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, but afterwards struggling to understand why it was Richard’s story when all the main events of the plot would have happened anyway, irrespective of whether he was there or not. I reasoned that he was there because it wasn’t about the events of the story – it was about the perspective on those events that he provided – and his lack of influence on the narrative as a whole did not bother me.

So, what do you think? Depending on the story you want to tell, do passive protagonists have a place in fiction? Let me know in the comments below.

* As a side note, in the book of The Mosquito Coast, Allie Fox is quite clearly mad; in the movie, he is a genius with a thoroughly unsupportive family!

Welcome to The Struggling Writer

Welcome to The Struggling Writer. As the name and tagline suggests, this is a site about a struggling writer, namely me, Andrew ‘Gillan’ Drew. Almost forty, writing fiction all my life and increasingly fed up at getting nowhere, I figured that here would be a great place to share some of my work, discuss some ideas, and go off on frustrated rants about anything to do with writing, publishing and the wider world around me.

Come for the blog, stay for some stories, and hopefully be moved, entertained and provoked in equal measure. Click on the menu above to access my fiction and feel free to comment.

I look forward to engaging with my fellow writers.

Gillan