Have you seen the movie Go (1999)? It's on Netflix (as is Swingers which has a directorial connection with Go), so if you haven't and you have access to it, I highly recommend that you check it out.
You see, I've been asked a few times about my influences. I usually tell people that life is my influence. This sounds a bit wanky and artsy (those aren't always the same thing) but to my mind it's true. Also, it's really hard to choose a writer who influences your writing when there is so much talent out there, especially since I cast my reading net quite widely. So if I didn't say, "Oh, I'm influenced by everyday life, really," my answer would be more like the question, "Have you read this guy, this girl or these people?" The response to that would be a blank stare. I'd ask you, "Have you seen this bunch of movies, then?" and list off a load of flicks that were based on books I've read and enjoyed. More blank stares. Then I'd move on to original screenplays, TV series, cartoons that my kids force me to watch... yadda, yadda, yadda.
Everyday life it is, then.
Except I re-watched Go for the first time in years. Possibly a decade. Apart from the fact that the movie has aged incredibly well, it's also a hell of a lot of fun. And behind that fun is a shitload of technical prowess in terms of writing (I'm a writer blogging about this from the perspective of a writer BTW so I'll not go into the great job the cast and crew did as well), from which a writer in any form could learn a trick or two.
For instance; I watched it over three days as a lunchtime treat to get away from the current manuscript once in a while. The structure of the movie lends itself to this style of viewing beautifully. The same timeline is basically retold three times from three different perspectives with the last ten minutes of the flick devoted to tying the movie up. Shot from Ronna, Simon and Adam & Zack's POVs respectively, it's basically a tale about having a little too much craic and the trouble that can bring.
As I watched, laughed and shook my head at some of the characters' exploits, I got to thinking that this was the style I'd been going for in the Point series of novellas (of which only two have been released so far -- there will be more, count on that) and the hapless characters that inhabit that universe. They're not particularly bad people (the protagonists, I mean, not the scumbags they get mixed up with), but they are pretty loser-ish.
In a few interviews and conversations I've asked about the direct influences on Breaking Point, the most recent Point novella. I answered with reference to the movie Pineapple Express. I would have preferred a prose example, but I couldn't think of one. And if I'm honest, I wasn't altogether comfortable with that comparison anyway. Pineapple Express is far funnier than anything I've written. The darkness is there, as it is in most of my work, but I can't compete with those chuckles a line delivered by Danny McBride or Seth Rogen can get. Go, though... it has a lot of laughs in it, as well as the hectic storyline and somewhat more realistic idea of consequence. Go is the movie that I should really compare most of my writing to. And if I did that more often, I think I'd write better books.*
*Disclaimer: By no means am I damning my work as substandard, by the way. I'll leave that to the critics who, for the most part, have been very kind to me. And I'll keep the artistic anguish, if and when it occurs, to myself.