Five Movies that have Influenced My Writing

Five Movies that have Influenced My Writing

Die Hard (1988) – This was the first movie I watched while reading the script. The exercise was assigned as homework for one of the many on-line classes I took in my quest for better writing skills. Immediately establishing character with the opening scene was a difficult concept for me until I watched the first few minutes of this movie. That wasn’t the only lesson I took away, but it remains etched in my brain like no textbook ever.

The Wizard of Oz (1939) – The concept of identifying the main character’s problem for a novel was clarified for me by trying to define Dorothy’s goal for the movie. When you ask about her goal, most people answer, “She wanted to get back home.” But that’s not Dorothy’s problem. Instead, she wants to run away from Miss Gulch, the tyrant of the county. Dorothy fears retaliation because her beloved dog, Toto, has bitten Miss Gulch, and Miss Gulch has threatened to call the sheriff. That change in perspective helped me dig deeper when setting up the character’s arc.

Pride and Prejudice – I have read this book approximately forty-one thousand times. I’ve also seen each movie version since the first release in 1940 starring Greer Garson as Elizabeth Bennet. Let me be clear – my favorite Darcy is Colin Firth and will always remain my favorite. This movie poses as a typical fairy tale with the commoner Elizabeth marrying the prince Darcy. Except that it’s an example of a strong female character who feels in charge of her destiny. I think she’s the first self-rescuing princess I related to. I like that about Elizabeth and try to empower my protagonist with that focused sense of determination to find her own way to happiness and success.

To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) – I loved the book and the movie and I revisit both at least once a year. The movie taught me the importance of point of view. Seeing the drama unfold from the unbiased eyes of Scout made the themes resonate in a way I wouldn’t have appreciated from any other character, including Aticus. I learned to write in multiple points of view in the hope of capturing the intensity and raw truth I find mesmerizing in To Kill a Mockingbird.

Murder on the Orient Express (1974) – This was my first introduction to Agatha Christie in film. I had read all her books and remember mourning her like a close relative when she died. Christie used several real-life events to craft this story for UK publication in 1934. The recent kidnapping and murder of Charles Lindbergh’s son in 1932 where an innocent maid was suspected of involvement, interrogated by police, and then she committed suicide. Agatha Christie first traveled on the Orient Express in the fall of 1928. Just a few months later in February, an Orient Express train was trapped by a blizzard for six days. Then in 1931, Christie herself was stuck on the Orient Express for 24 hours due to rainfall, flooding and sections of the track being washed away. This taught me to use my personal experience to enhance the realism of my books.


Cheryl Hollon writes full time after she left an engineering career designing and building military flight simulators in amazing countries such as England, Wales, Australia, Singapore, Taiwan and India. Fulfilling the dream of a lifetime, she combines her love of writing with a passion for creating glass art. In the small glass studio behind the house, Cheryl and her husband George design, create, and produce fused glass, stained glass and painted glass artworks. She can be found on Facebook and twitter.