Five Writing Secrets I Learned From “The NeverEnding Story”

Picture a boy sneaking under his bed so that he can read late at night without his parents knowing. He holds a flashlight close to the page, and his lips move as he reads the words not quite silently. Suddenly the boy is not under the bed – he is in Narnia or Sugar Creek or Bayport.

That boy was me. So when I realized “The NeverEnding Story” was about a boy who actually is part of the book he is reading, I was hooked instantly.

Here are five writing secrets from one of my favorite childhood movies:

1 – A writer can never lose their hopes or dreams. You may get rejection after rejection from agents, publishers and even friends who don’t understand your work.

G’mork: Foolish boy. Don’t you know anything about Fantasia? It’s the world of human fantasy. Every part, every creature of it, is a piece of the dreams and hopes of mankind. Therefore, it has no boundaries.
Atreyu: But why is Fantasia dying, then?
G’mork: Because people have begun to lose their hopes and forget their dreams. So the Nothing grows stronger.

So long as you don’t lose your hope or give up on your dreams, the Nothing is held at bay.

2 – Luck is real:

Falcor: Never give up and good luck will find you.

The thing about good luck, though, is that it tends to happen to people who keep trying. It’s impossible to get lucky if you quit.

3 – In the next quote, Bastian says something that reflects the way most of us feel:

The Childlike Empress: Bastian. Why don’t you do what you dream, Bastian?
Bastian: But I can’t, I have to keep my feet on the ground!

I can’t try something new, I have responsibilities! I can’t take a risk, I might fail! I can’t try something big – other people will think I’m crazy!

Why don’t you do what you dream?

4) Once you decide to dream, don’t be discouraged by the darkness that occasionally comes:

Bastian: Why is it so dark?
The Childlike Empress: In the beginning, it is always dark.

When you first start out, there’s a lot of uncertainty, a lot of doubt, a lot of darkness. The good thing about that is, your pole star will be easier to spot.

5 – Don’t wither in the face of your doubts. Punch them in the nose:

Mr. Koreander: Whoa whoa whoa, who were you running from?
Bastian: Just some kids from school.
Mr. Koreander: Why?
Bastian: They wanted to throw me in the garbage.
Mr. Koreander: Why don’t you give them a good punch in the nose, hm?

Any writing secrets you learned from “The NeverEnding Story”? Do you believe in luck? What do you do with self-doubt?

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Similar posts include:

Five Writing Secrets I Learned From “The Princess Bride”

Five Writing Secrets I Learned From “Dumb and Dumber”

Five Writing Secrets I Learned From “Airplane”

9 Replies to “Five Writing Secrets I Learned From “The NeverEnding Story””

  1. I think my everlasting takeaway was a fear of sphinxes (merriam webster has told me I can add “ex” or change it to sphinges. Weird.)

    I sure as hell believe in being in the right place at the right time… that could be luck, fate, something ESP-ish, God… whatever.

    And self-doubt gets ignored… would probably be better to punch it in the nose. I’ll have to think about it. I suppose it’s different when my boss says something that makes me doubt myself? it’s just the doubt I punch, right? Just want to be sure…

  2. Once again, I am profoundly impressed by how you draw such insight from something, well, in this case, something so creepy . . . that dog thing still scares me. . .

    But I take to heart the idea that the beginning is always dark – so true . . . and then I can pair it with what I just read of Kathleen Norris this morning. “We come, as all things come, to light.”

  3. I think I was too creeped out by the giant stoner dog to notice this stuff, so I’m glad you pointed these out. Also: Suger Creek Gang. Amen.

    1. Yes! Another Sugar Creek Gang devotee! I wanted to name my firstborn Dragonfly, but Maile wasn’t up for it.

  4. I loved that movie too–a book lover’s tale, for sure. And it is all about hope–sometHIng writers certainly need to keep in view!

  5. The Neverending Story is a movie that has influenced me since childhood. I too was instantly hooked by the concept. I felt like I was Bastian, or that Bastian was written just for me. Great blog post, Shawn!

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