I’m going to admit that though I’d seen parts of the movie “Misery” and knew what happened in it, I never sat down and watched the entire thing until a week ago. I’ve since watched it three times. Stephen King really is a master of suspense. He makes you wonder what will happen next. But since Stephen King wrote the book that inspired the movie and since he’s a popular author, I imagine he might have felt some of the author’s angst while he wrote the book. As an author, I can relate, and I think other authors can relate to this stuff, too. Here’s what I mean…
1. “I’m your number 1 fan.”
At first in the movie, this seems like such a sweet sentiment. The smiling and seemingly helpless woman who rescues the author comes off as the ideal person to nurse him back to health. Except, she’s not. Don’t get me wrong. Most people are normal. Most people are nice and stay nice if they’re a huge fan of our work. However, there could be that one particular fan who ends up going crazy and you don’t see it coming. I had such an incident happen last year, and I still get chills when someone says they’re my biggest fan. That’s why I laughed as hard as I did at the end of the movie when someone else came up to the author in the movie and said “I’m your #1 fan”. After everything that author went through with Annie (the psycho fan) in the movie, he will never be happy to hear someone is his #1 fan. He’ll smile and thank the person, but he’ll always get that “Oh crap. Is this person like Annie?” shiver crawling up his spine. After being harassed and stalked last year, I don’t welcome the biggest fan sentiment like I used to. Now I wonder if this will be another case of what happened in 2011. These days, I don’t get close to my fans until I’ve known them long enough to establish a level of trust. Always proceed with caution. You can’t close yourself off to everyone, but you should be careful.
2. “I didn’t like this about the book”
And boy, does Annie in the movie let the poor author have it because she didn’t like what he did with his book. She yelled at him, broke things in the room, made him burn his manuscript, and made him write another book to suit her. Granted, Annie’s extreme, but as authors, we will come across people who don’t like something about our books. They might try to nicely convince us to do something different or be outright rude about it, but one way or another, they’ll end up letting you know. If you haven’t received such an email yet, just wait. It’s coming. But here’s the thing to keep in mind: it’s just a book. At the end of the day, it’s just a book. No one will die because you didn’t write the book to specifically please them. Your job as the writer is to give your characters the story they want. And something that has always given me comfort is knowing that I will never ever please every single reader on this planet. So just go with the flow and let the characters do it their way.
3. “If I don’t kill Misery off in this book, I’ll be writing about her until the day I die, and I want to write something else.”
This is why the author decided to kill his character, Misery, in his series. It was a very popular series. it was selling well. But he was tired of it. He wanted to write something else. There comes a time when an author gets tired of writing a particular genre or series. There comes a time when an author wants to break free and do something else. So he killed Misery off in what he hoped to be the last Misery book he’d ever write. Who can blame the guy? At the end of the movie, he does tell his agent that he wrote a new type of book for himself and that is what made him satisfied with his work. While I believe we are in a business, I also think if we’re dreading the book we’re thinking of writing, we’re better off branching out into a different story. Who knows? It might be better than the series/genre you’re already doing.
So those are the lessons I took away from the movie. Did anyone else come up with any other lessons?