Saturday, September 12, 2009

Princess Bride--Perfectly Worded

Okay, so part of the reason we love Princess Bride is the characters, and the actors who brought them out on the screen. But there's another reason I love this movie: The Words.

The writing in this movie is simply outstanding. It's perfect in tone and word choice. And the characters' voices are so unique to them. How often have you read a book or seen a movie and felt as though you couldn't really distinguish one character from another? The writing in Princess Bride delivers on every front. Which is why so many of us can quote so much of this movie! When I worked at Multnomah Books, which is now part of Random House publishers, we book editors used to love to get together and quote PB. Didn't matter what we were doing--meetings, brainstorms, sharing a meal. At some point in a gathering you could count on a PB line popping out. Of course, we had to respond in kind. It was a blast!

As a writer, I can't help but be delighted when the words in a story are so perfectly chosen. And every time I watch this movie or read the book, I'm inspired to higher excellence in my own writing. Many novelists write to meet a daily word count, which is a good plan. But there is a drawback. Sometimes we slip into the habit of writing for the sake of words, rather than words for the sake of writing. We need to be purposeful about the words we put on the page. You can tell the difference between authors who are purposeful and those who aren't. The words of the puposeful come alive, sing off the page, resonate deep within long after the book is read. Words such as:

"In the deceitful calm of the days preceding disaster, while Rhoades still glittered like a white jewel in the Aegean, Tessa of Delos planned to open her wrists. The death of her body was longoverdue. Her soul had died ten years ago." Shadow of Colossus, T.L. Higley

"The unicorn lived in a lilac wood and she lived all alone. She was very old, though she did not know it, and she was no longer the careless color of sea foam, but rather the color of snow falling on a moonlit night. But her eyes were clear and unwearied, and she still moved like a shadow on the sea."
The Last Unicorn, Peter S. Beagle

"It's Nathan's fault that I became God. It is, as I would learn, hell to be God. Nathan, to begin with, is as close to a genius as anyone I ever expect to know. If this story has any moral at all, it is that you should stay away from geniuses." The God Game, Andrew Greeley

"The first time I saw the Sin Eater was the night Granny Forbes was carried to her grave. I was very young, and Granny my dearest companion, and I was greatly troubled in my mind. "Dunna look at the Sin Eater, Cadi," I'd been warned by my pa, "and no be askin' why." Being so grievously forewarned, I tried to obey. Mama said I was acurst with curiosity. Papa said it was pure, cussed nosiness. Only Granny, with her tender spot for me, had understood." The Last Sin Eater, Francine Rivers

These books, and the wonderful Princess Bride, move me to long for excellence in my writing. Because that kind of writing sticks with the reader. For a long time.

So, I have my favorite lines from the movie, but I want to see what lines you recall. Come on, many of you are writers. I KNOW you remember lines from this movie. So share.

As Vizzini was so fond of saying....



Kristin said...

Perfect wording fills me with longing because I feel inept. Anne Tyler's interview gave me hope this week. She said that now her books were closer to what she'd planned for them to be in her mind. I think that's the worst of it, that we plan this greatness and it doesn't come out that way. But we grow. We learn.

Tia said...

As you wish
R.O.U.S's...Rodents of Unusual Size

Lori Benton said...

Is this a kissing book?

Rel said...


You can't handle the truth! - Jack Nicholson, A Few Good Men

You did it! Congratulations! World's best cup of coffee! Great job, everybody! It's great to be here. - Will Farrell, Elf

Sometimes, I guess there just aren't enough rocks. - Tom Hanks, Forrest Gump

With what? Possession of a condiment? Tom Cruise, A Few Good Men

You think that because you are rich, and my father is in... reduced circumstances, that you can have me for your possession! I suppose I should expect no less from someone in trade!

I don't want to possess you! I wish to marry you because I love you!

You shouldn't! Because I do not like you, and never have.

One minute we talk of the colour of fruit, the next of love. How does that happen?

- Daniela Denby-Ashe & Richard Armitage, North & South

Okay, I'll stop now ;-) - Rel!

Heather said...

My favorite lines from the Princess Bride have to be: "Inconcievable!"
"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."
"Fezzik, are there rocks ahead?"
"If there are, we all be dead!"
"No more rhyming, now, I mean it!"
"Anybody want a peanut?"
"Have fun storming the castle!"
"Think it'll work?"
"It'd take a miracle. Goodbye!"
LOL. I guess I just love the movie. There are so many quotes that you can use in real-life situations. :0) My friends and I can't get together but there's some Princess Bride quote that pops up.

Domino said...

I love: "Inconceivable!"

I guess it would be a bad idea to write on the paper Hello-My-Name-Is nametags the rest of this quote "My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."

Another fave: "Why are you smiling?" "Because I know something you do not know." "And what is that?" "I am not left-handed."

Jennifer AlLee said...

Ah, The Princess Bride. So many great moments! Lots of the great lines have been mentioned already, but let's not forget...

"I am Inego Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."

"He's only mostly dead."

"To the pain!" and Wesley's whole wonderful speech deleivered while laying flat on his back in a bed.

Anonymous said...

"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means..." I use this phrase in everyday conversation on a regular basis. With the accent. PB fans get it, everyone else thinks I'm a bit off my rocker.

Kathleen L. said...

I could quote PB all day long.

"The Clifths of Inthanity!"

"Do you hear that sound, highness? Those are the shrieking eels."

"How's da sickie?"

"Uhm, Grampa, do you think you could come by and read it again tomorrow?"
-"As you wish."

"Life is pain, highness. Anyone who tells you different is trying to sell you something."

"I'm on the brute squad."
-"You ARE the brute quad."

okay, that'll do it for now. Thanks, this was FUN!