Sometimes I wonder what Hollywood writers actually think of fiction writers. We’re all writers, and yet, there’s some appalling characterizations of writers floating around TV.
A Badly Written Best Seller
The most common is the writer writing a book that populates the story with thinly veiled characters based on the people he knows. The book is horribly written and somehow he strikes gold when he plops it in the mail and it becomes a best seller. Pretty much, it’s a winning the lottery fantasy.
In NCIS, McGee makes it about his team, gives slight name changes to the characters, it turns into a best seller, and he gets to ride in a limousine to a party. Girls hang off his arms.
The truth? A local writer in Washington DC area wrote a book with thinly veiled characters based on county board members. It did get attention…and really not the attention he probably wanted.
A Writer Who Never Writes
The next most common is the person who is a writer and never quite seems to actually do any writing. Granted, it’s pretty hard depicting a writer’s job on TV. He or she sits in front of a computer and puts black marks on the screen.
Looks kind of well, dull.
So we end up with Castle and Jessica Fletcher, wandering all over fighting real life crimes. Both are best selling writers, but when exactly do they write?
Writer as an Misfit
Hollywood also seems to think that fiction writers are hacks. They type one word on a sheet of paper in a manual typewriter, then tear it out, crumple it up and toss it into a full trash can. Writer then types the SAME WORD on the next piece of paper and repeats the process.
The writer will type all this on an old Royal manual typewriter (which in real life he probably can’t get any ribbons for). McGee is the perfect example of this. He’s a computer nerd, talks processor power, and yet writes on antique technology? Even Jessica Fletcher wrote on an old manual typewriter. Computers were around during the run of the series, but the technology was pretty new–the electric typewriter wasn’t I suppose there was something to showing the keys hitting the page, but still….
I guess typing on a computer and putting black marks on screen doesn’t look very exciting…
Edited to add: I just saw an advertisement for a Melissa McCarty movie. She’s a writer in the movie. The trailer clearly shows she has a manual typewriter.