True love. A giant. Pirates. Mistaken identity. A double-triple-quadruple cross that turns into a deadly choice of one goblet over another, and the decision is made by way of logic and nonsense.

All of these, and more, take place in the classic movie, “The Princess Bride.”

But did you know there was treasure hidden in there, too? Priceless gems, in fact. Here they are: five writing secrets I learned from “The Princess Bride.”

1) There are many exchanges such as this in “The Princess Bride”:

Westley: Hear this now: I will always come for you.
Buttercup: But how can you be sure?
Westley: This is true love – you think this happens every day?

The secret to be learned here? Westley is right: true love does not happen every day. So don’t write about it every day, or on every page, or people will tire of your writing.

2) Take your time. Don’t rush. NaNoWriMo is great…for getting down a first draft. But never expect a good novel to be completed in a month. Maybe written, but never completed.

Miracle Max: You rush a miracle man, you get rotten miracles.

Writing a good story is right up there with any great miracle. So don’t rush it.

3) If your story is too painful to tell, try writing it into a piece of fiction:

Fezzik: Why do you wear a mask? Were you burned by acid, or something like that?
Man in Black: Oh no, it’s just that they’re terribly comfortable. I think everyone will be wearing them in the future.

Masks can be very comfortable. So if you want to write about your life, but it’s too painful, or you’ll be sued for libel or defamation of character, try turning it into fiction.

4) Writing means practicing. If the only time you write is for your book, or your blog, or, in other words, when an audience will see it, then you aren’t doing yourself justice.

Vizzini: Jump in after her!
Inigo Montoya: I don’t swim
Fezzik: I only dog paddle.
Vizzini: AGGHH!

If any of these guys had practiced swimming, then when the big moment arrived they could have jumped in and rescued her.

Practice writing. Then, when your big opportunity arrives, you’ll be able to do more than dog-paddle.

5) At some point you might read back over what you’ve written and think it’s dead.

Miracle Max: He probably owes you money huh? I’ll ask him.
Inigo Montoya: He’s dead. He can’t talk.
Miracle Max: Whoo-hoo-hoo, look who knows so much. It just so happens that your friend here is only MOSTLY dead. There’s a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive. With all dead, well, with all dead there’s usually only one thing you can do.
Inigo Montoya: What’s that?
Miracle Max: Go through his clothes and look for loose change.

Your writing might feel dead. Gone. A waste. But look closer – there’s almost always one small thing you can salvage: the setting, a character, an image. Mostly dead turns to slightly alive.

For other writing secrets check out:

Five Writing Secrets I Learned From the Movie “Airplane”

Five Writing Secrets I Learned From the Movie “Napoleon Dynamite”

(Thanks to for all scripts and to Daniel Meyer for reminding me about what a great movie this is).

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Today is the last day to help determine the fate of Macy, who is currently caught on a fire escape waiting for the readers of this blog to decide what she will do – read this story and put in your two cents.