If you’ve read my fiction samples, you’ll know that what I write is about as far away from pulp fiction as London from Auckland (at least 11,389 miles).
Nonetheless, many of my more eccentric ideas have been inspired by the quotes of great pulp fiction movies…mainly quotes from Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction to be exact.
The wisdom that can be distilled from the dialogue of this masterpiece never fails to disappoint and whilst there are many valid life lessons to be learned, the following three quotes have made me a better writer, too.
Those of you who know the movie will know that there is a lot of swearing in those quotes. Anybody else, please be warned…strong language!
So, let’s see…
“Fuck pride. Pride only hurts, it never helps.” -Marsellus Wallace
A writer’s pride is precious. Don’t we all want to feel like our story is truly ours? Don’t we all want to feel like we could write anything and make it a masterpiece?
Who are editors, publishers, readers to tell us what to write…or how?
If you think this way, please don’t EVER publish your work. I mean it. NEVER! If you consider yourself the sole authority on your work and if you let your pride stand in the way of accepting feedback for improvement you are not an author.
You can be a writer as long as you write but please only write for yourself and don’t inflict your work on others.
Authors who wish to build a career need to be open to feedback. That means putting your pride aside and accepting that you are not in a position to accurately judge the quality of your work.
If you are not willing to listen to your readers (or editors) and at least consider what they have to say, you are on the losing team.
This was a tough lesson for me to learn (you know, being a Leo and all) but take it from somebody who battled for 15 years before seeing sense. Pride truly only hurts, just like Marcellus Wallace says.
“Just because you are a character doesn’t mean that you have character.” -The Wolf
It’s not an uncommon misconception that characters have…well character…by default. Not true!
You can call a Volvo a Jaguar but it doesn’t change the fact that your Volvo is a Volvo and that everybody around you can see it for themselves.
I recently wrote a blog post about the 5 biggest mistakes in character development and if you think that you might have characters who lack flair, personality, and authenticity, you should really check it out.
There is nothing worse than flat characters with no backstory and ultimately nowhere to go.
They end up floating around your story, speaking in dialogue that seems (at times) an utter mismatch to what their character is supposedly about and add nothing but headaches.
These characters don’t develop a smidge throughout the story and readers are likely to lose interest in them.
Wolf is a character who knows what he’s talking about. Bear this quote in mind. I have it as my desktop background. An excellent reminder.
“You see, this profession is filled to the brim with unrealistic motherfuckers. Motherfuckers who thought their ass would age like wine.” -Marsellus Wallace
Ok, so this quote might seem like a bit of a stretch. What can you possibly learn about writing from this quote? Just an attempt to get the m-word in.
Hm…not entirely. I think that this third quote actually very accurately portrays the writer’s profession. Especially in the age of indie publishing where anybody can publish anything.
I have seen so many terrible works of fiction being churned out. The cover may be professional, the marketing may be smart but if the person doesn’t write well, the work will ultimately disappoint.
I have recently bought an e-book that looked incredibly promising. Great cover, great blurb, great plot even. But the writing was terrible and I decided to abandon the story on page 10.
I’m sure that’s a record for me. As a reader, I know that I don’t want to waste my time with awful books that get published only because the author wants to make a buck or two.
I want to read books written by writers who are passionate about writing as well as the stories they write. I want well thought out stories and complex characters from writers who care about their readers and work hard to make the read a good experience.
So, when I write, I aim to write something that I would enjoy as a reader and the above quote hopefully delivers a compelling reason why you should, too.
Otherwise, you end up being one of those pretentious mothers…and no, terrible books don’t get better with time. They only get better with editing.
I hope this post brought some useful insights into your writer’s journey, too. If you have any other quotes that have made you a better writer (even if they are not from Pulp Fiction), let me know in the comments below.