A Writer’s Life: Waiting for Vizzini

When things go wrong along the writing road, what do you do?

  • When you face writer’s block as formidable as Fezzik (and please, no debate on whether writer’s block exists) …
  • When rejections attack you like a pack of shrieking eels
  • When your plot collapses like Vizzini’s battle of wits with the Dread Pirate Roberts

What’s your go-to plan for getting back on course?

In the much-beloved movie The Princess Bride, Vizzini was the brains, Fezzik the brawn, and Inigo was, well, the swordsman. (Sorry, I couldn’t come up with a “b” word for the guy wielding the sword.) Despite the fact that Plato, Aristotle and Socrates were all morons compared to Vizzini — or so he said — his plan to kidnap and murder Buttercup imploded.

Inigo: bested.

Fezzik: beaten.

Vizzini: plain ol’ dead.

Remember what Inigo did when the plan went south — well, besides drinking himself into a stupor?

He went back to the beginning … and waited for Vizzini.

Smart man, Inigo.

What do you find when you go back to the beginning?

“This is where we got the job, so this is the beginning.”

Inigo may not have been able to see clearly — heck, he couldn’t even stand up straight — but he remembered a fundamental truth: When a plan fails, go back to the beginning.

Are you discouraged? Did that long-anticipated yes turn into an unexpected no? Walk away from it — but don’t abandon who you are. Go back to the beginning and remember your purpose: You are a writer. You have a job to do. Sometimes things don’t go according to plan. You get bested. Beaten. A dream dies.

Catch your breath, renew your heart … and then dream a new dream.

Who do you find when you go back to the beginning?

“I … am … waiting … for … Vizzini.”

Inigo was waiting for someone. For better, for worse, Vizzini was Inigo’s leader — the one he followed.

Going back to the beginning, waiting, doesn’t mean wasting time. Did you round the bend in the writing road and hit a dead end? Don’t be too proud to back up, turn around. Go back to the beginning and remember who you are as a writer. Answer this question: What makes your fingers fly across the keyboard? What keeps you up late and drags you out of bed early because you can’t not write this story?

Can’t remember?

Who is your Vizzini? Who first mentored you (maybe mentors you still)?Who helps nurture your dream? Who believes in you when you don’t? Go back to the beginning and ask them to help you remember.

It’s been fun talking about a writer’s life and the Cliffs of Insanity, the Fire Swamp, the Pit of Despair — and now Waiting for Vizzini. Everyone’s comments have made this more than a blog post — it’s become a conversation. So tell me, what lessons have you learned by going back to the beginning? 

*Just for fun, here’s a YouTube clip of Inigo waiting for Vizzini.

Post Author: Beth K. Vogt

Beth K. Vogt is a non-fiction author and editor who said she’d never write fiction. She’s the wife of an air force physician (now in solo practice) who said she’d never marry a doctor—or anyone in the military. She’s a mom of four who said she’d never have kids. She’s discovered that God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.” She writes contemporary romance because she believes there’s more to happily ever after than the fairy tales tell us.

22 thoughts on “A Writer’s Life: Waiting for Vizzini

    • That’s so true. For every page we delete, there’s another blank page waiting for our brilliant prose. For every project that fizzles … well, we refuel (java works for a lot of us!) regroup and begin again.

  1. Okay – that’s it. I need to watch the PRincess Bride today. I LOVE this post, Beth. Go back to the beginning! Such simple, yet such wise advice. It applies to an actual story too. Stuck with the plot or a character in the story? Go back to the beginning. This always helps me.

    • Katie,
      If you lived closer, I’d come over with my DVD and we’d watch The Princess Bride together!
      😉
      A most excellent application too. I often go back to the beginning when I’m stuck on my plot/characters. It gives me fresh perspective.

  2. Beth, this is awesome! I agree with Katie, I need to watch this movie now. I’ve never seen it! Such lessons to learn… 🙂

  3. Wow. I wish I could get a whole bunch of people together and we could watch it …
    Here’s something fun: I’m taking all these Princess Bride blog posts and turning them into workshops for the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference (May 20-24). Y’all come!
    🙂

  4. “(Sorry, I couldn’t come up with a “b” word for the guy wielding the sword.)”

    How about “Bravado”?

    Thanks for the post!

    • Ah, bravado. A perfect word for Inigo. Thanks, Joe. I was hoping someone would suggest a “b” word. (My son, Josh, also a writer/editor, suggested “bandit.”)
      And yes, I am thrilled he has my writing genes.
      😉

      • Or ‘blade.’ After all, Wesley did mention his brains, Fezzik’s brawn, and Inigo’s blade when they were figuring out how to get into the castle.
        Great post, Beth!

  5. I’m in Asheville, so the BRMCWC is right around the corner for me. And now I know there will be at least one fabulous workshop!

    The important part about going back to the beginning, is that you know where the beginning IS. My problem early on with my writing was dithering about trying to find the beginning. Backstory, rabbit trails, character development (that’s what I called it). Where’s the inciting incident? “This is where we got the job, so this is the beginning.” NOW you can find your way to the middle and hopefully the end. A lesson I’m still learning.

  6. Sarah:
    See you at BRMCWC! We’ll have fun stormin’ the castle!

    Ah, good insight.
    Sometimes, yes, we have to go back to the beginning.
    But this is not the same as going back to square one. And it doesn’t give us license to never more forward. Which is the whole reason why Fezzik dunked Inigo’s head in those barrels full of water and sobered him up!
    🙂

  7. What a fun post, Beth! And SO RIGHT ON. I can’t stress enough how important it is to go back to that initial spark in a story to figure out what the core elements are. Doing that myself on my current WIP right now. 🙂 Thanks for that reminder! (and can’t wait to see you at the BWCWC!)

  8. Susie,
    I’m delighted to have you drop by the WordServe Water Cooler!
    And yes, you’ve asked me more than once: What do you love about this story? What do you love about these characters?
    Fundamental questions that often re-ignite my passion and help me dive back into my work-in-progress.

  9. First: Such swell timing because my current story and I are having relationship difficulties at the moment. Good reminder to go back to the beginning, remember why I love it. Second: Pretty sure it’s been way too long since I watched Princess Bride… 🙂 Great post, Beth!

    • Maybe we need to have a FB party and watch The Princess Bride all together and discuss it!

      All in favor?

      🙂

  10. Beth,
    I needed the reminder not only to go back to the beginning of my wip, to the reason why I started writing this story in the first place.

    Thanks so much,
    Alena

    • This one of the reasons I enjoy a conversation about a blog post: when the topic encourages just that — conversation and encouragement! Cheering you on, Alena! (You know my email addy. And for that matter, I know yours.)

  11. Fun post as always, Beth. I’m not planning on a conference this year, but now that you mention the dates for BRMCWC I might have to see how many pennies are in the bank for that time. I’ll be done with my day job for 8 weeks beginning that week. Fantastic idea to use these posts for conference teaching. When I go back to the beginning I almost always find a way to make things better, as long as I’m not too close to deadline and in a panic. 🙂

    • Well, you know what I think, Jillian — join in the fun at BRMCWC!
      Now all the fun is the transforming the posts to workshops! I’ll keep you posted.

  12. I’ve loved the Princess Bride posts! So much fun! Wish I could be at Blue Ridge to hear your workshop. Love the simplicity of that truth–back to the beginning. Sometimes it’s redoing a scene, or even a portion of the book. And sometimes it’s hitting your core values.

    • I’ve had so much fun writing these posts. I should probably thank my writer son, Josh, for pushing me to go deeper with the analogy on the first post, The Cliffs of Insanity.
      🙂
      And yes, Lisa, it’s always good to go back to the beginning and remember who we are as writers. And why we write.

  13. Count me in on those who need to see The Princess Bride! Great post. Where were you the year I went to BRMCWC??? It’s a great conference. Wish I could go this year.

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