How Do You LikeThem Apples, or Michelle Gushes About Good Will Hunting

Today I will be waxing poetic about one of my favorite movies of all time, Good Will Hunting. Please don’t look for a purpose in this. I’m just…in the kind of mood where I have to talk about something that moved me and continues to move me.

My love for Good Will Hunting didn’t start in 1997 when the movie was released. My love for Good Will Hunting stemmed from watching it after Robin Williams’ tragic passing. Because it was then when I saw the movie through a writer’s eyes.

Yesterday on Darcy Pattison’s blog she spoke about the skeleton of a scene being structured to include a beginning, middle, turning point, and end. To illustrate, she used one of my favorite scenes from one of my favorite movies of all time, Good Will Hunting.  See what Darcy has to say here.

Of course, I watched the scene. A few times.  As usual when GWH is involved, I tend to get sucked into with no hope of coming out the same.

GWH 1

This movie, for me, is pure brilliance through dialogue, emotional connections, character development, and of course, performance. Robin Williams won an Oscar for his portrayal of Sean. Matt Damon and Ben Affleck won Oscars for screenplay. Almost twenty years later and this movie is still as gripping as it was when it released. It just gives me…all the feels.

Some facts you may not know because maybe you’re not a slightly obsessive fangirl type.

  • The plot originally revolved around the FBI trying to get it’s hooks into Will and force him to work for them. It had the boys running all over Boston trying to allude them, ala Jason Bourne style. I’m so glad Matt Damon saved that for another movie. The beauty of this story is that is so quiet and so huge at the same time. The characters are real and struggling and the language they use, the words that Matt Damon and Ben Affleck chose speak lyrical volumes. There is just so much packed into each and every monologue.
  • When Kevin Smith was approached to direct the film, he said, “I wouldn’t dare direct this movie, this is so beautiful.” Kevin went in personally to Harvey Weinstein’s office at Miramax and handed him the script, and basically said, “Drop everything you’re doing right now and read this.
  • The scene where Sean (Robin Williams) tells Will (Matt Damon) that his wife used to fart in her sleep was completely adlibbed by Williams. So this face is the face of a writer and actor being completely taken off-guard and still managing to keep it together.

GWH 2

  • The original screenplay was a project Matt Damon wrote for one of his last classes at Harvard. (See, he’s wicked smaht too!) The production company wanted Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio to play Will and Chuckie.  Man, where they wrong about that. I can’t imagine Will Hunting being played by anyone but Matt Damon.  *sigh*
  • The scene where Will meets Sean for the first time is one of the very few original scenes left intact from the original screenplay.  Williams also added a bit of the adlibbing flare he was known for at the end of the scene when he threatens Will and throws him into the wall, practically choking him. Matt Damon had no idea he was going to get physical at that point and was completely surprised. So were the set designers who said they almost knocked the entire wall down because they weren’t prepared for the outburst of violence.
  • The last scene in the movie Sean goes outside and reads a note that Will has left for him. The scene was filmed it multiple times with Williams adlibbing a different line each time. When he walked out and said, “Son of a *****, he stole my line,” everyone on the set knew the take was over.

GWH 4

Below is my favorite monologue to demonstrate the honesty and lyricism of the film. In this scene Sean is giving Will a choice. It’s such an iconic scene that when Robin Williams died, fans went to the bench in the Boston Public Gardens and left memorials for him. I’ve read there’s a petition to have a bronze statue of Williams placed on the bench.

So if I asked you about art, you’d probably give me the skinny on every art book ever written. Michelangelo, you know a lot about him. Life’s work, political aspirations, him and the Pope, sexual orientation, the whole works, right? But I’ll bet you can’t tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel. You’ve never actually stood there and looked up at that beautiful ceiling. Seen that. If I ask you about women, you’d probably give me a syllabus about your personal favorites. You may have even been laid a few times. But you can’t tell me what it feels like to wake up next to a woman and feel truly happy. You’re a tough kid. And I’d ask you about war, you’d probably throw Shakespeare at me, right: ‘Once more into the breach, dear friends.’ But you’ve never been near one. You’ve never held your best friend’s head in your lap, and watch him gasp his last breath looking to you for help. I’d ask you about love, you’d probably quote me a sonnet. But you’ve never looked at a woman and been totally vulnerable. Known someone that could level you with her eyes, feeling like God put an angel on Earth just for you. Who could rescue you from the depths of Hell. And you wouldn’t know what it’s like to be her angel, to have that love for her, be there forever, through anything, through cancer. And you wouldn’t know about sleeping sittin’ up in the hospital room for two months, holding her hand, because the doctors could see in your eyes that the terms ‘visiting hours’ don’t apply to you. You don’t know about real loss, ’cause that only occurs when you’ve loved something more than you love yourself. And I doubt you’ve ever dared to love anybody that much.

I look at you. I don’t see an intelligent, confident man. I see a cocky, scared s–tless kid. But you’re a genius, Will. No one denies that. No one could possibly understand the depths of you. But you presume to know everything about me because you saw a painting of mine. You ripped my —-in’ life apart. You’re an orphan, right? (nodding) Do you think I’d know the first thing about how hard your life has been, how you feel, who you are, ’cause I read Oliver Twist? Does that encapsulate you? Personally, I don’t give a s–t about all that, because you know what, I can’t learn anything from you I can’t read in some —-in’ book. Unless you want to talk about you, who you are. Then I’m fascinated. I’m in. But you don’t wanna do that, do you, sport? You’re terrified of what you might say.

Your move, chief.

Feels, I tell you. FEELS.

GWH 3

Advertisements

Word Flow

Earlier today I told my daughter that I had no idea what I was going to blog about today.

This is the way I approach writing manuscripts as well. I know I’ve mentioned being a “pantser” on this blog numerous times. I’ve tried doing detailed plot outlines, using index cards, making pretty charts on my white board. None of it works for me. For me, the thrill of discovery as I write is the most rewarding part of writing. It’s how I work best and what makes my voice, mine.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t have moments like this when I sit down to write.

freak out

I have those moments before, during and after I write. My Crit partner can testify to that.

Oftentimes meandering down the unknown path yields the best result. But working with only a loose outline when when writing can be frightening. Sometimes you just don’t know what you’re going to say.

Here are some things that I’ve discovered that help me with Writer’s Block or as I like to call it, Writer’s Slow Drain.

  • THE RENAME GAME: I wish I could credit the source of this, but I truly don’t remember. It works though. When I’m stumped for a plot idea, scene, or even brief description, I clear my mind then close my eyes. When I open them, I look around the room (or desk, or Starbucks) and stop on the first item I see, then name it something else. For example, I just called my Yoda figure “apple,” the lightswitch, “cow,” and then the box of thumbtacks, “swing.” I don’t really know the science behind it, but it works. After I perform this exercise a few minutes, I always come up with the next thing to type in the MS.
  • PAPA’S ADVICE: I find that Ernest Hemingway’s advice works for me too. “The best way is always to stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next. If you do that every day … you will never be stuck. Always stop while you are going good and don’t think about it or worry about it until you start to write the next day. That way your subconscious will work on it all the time. But if you think about it consciously or worry about it you will kill it and your brain will be tired before you start.” — Ernest Hemingway
  • DANGLING CARROT: I’ve been envisioning a scene for a while now and once I started getting close to it, I had a hard time stopping my writing sessions. I was so anxious to get to that (kissing!) scene that it dangled in front of me like a carrot. Knowing it was there waiting for me to write it made the words come so much faster. Scenes like this are like rewards—a treat to write once I put in the effort to get to them.
  • HEADLINES: Stuck for ideas? Look around you. Grab a paper (or click on a link to a paper), browse social media, flip the channel. There are a plethora of ideas for your choosing. For example, the scene (aforementioned kissing scene) I just wrote for my WIP was inspired by a photo my daughter posted to Facebook after she participated in The Color Run. No, she wasn’t kissing anyone and no, The Color Run has nothing to do with a space station, but yet that photo sparked an idea for a beautiful scenario that I could put my characters in.
  • MUSIC SOOTHES THE SAVAGE BEAST: I’m not a writer who can play music during writing sessions (I sing along and get distracted!) but I am one that is inspired by music. For EVERGREEN, I listened to a lot of Imagine Dragons, Fallout Boy, AWOLNation and Skillet. It set a dark edgy tone that matched my MS. Now I turn on the Ed Sheeran station all the time, which is coming out directly in my love interest. There’s a sweet flirty thing he’s got going, but it’s a little spicy too. Ed Sheeran is perfect to set that tone.
  • NAME GAME: When my daughter graduated college recently we ended up with multiple copies of the program. I tucked one of those copies on my desk next to my craft books. Now when I’m stuck for a name, I whip out the program. I find it very helpful with names from other nationalities. Those are real people with real names, so I know they work. (I do try to flip some first and last names in order not to copy directly.)

If you’re writing, hopefully these tips will help you dislodge those ideas and get more words on the page.  If all else fails, listen to Daryl Dixon.

Daryl drinkwater

On the days it’s hard to write are the days it’s most important to write.

That’s how you know who you really are.

That’s how you know this is what you’re meant to do.

Wake up.

Get up.

Write.

–Chuck Wendig