Your Guide to Fictional Authors

It’s a bit of a running topic among writers that we’re never accurately portrayed in movies and TV. I know we’re not the only profession that gets stereotyped in entertainment media, but it’s perversely hilarious that these stereotypes are coming from actual writers.

Why would we do that to ourselves? It’s a mystery.

For funsies, I’ve collected my favorite familiar stereotypes. See how many you recognize!

The Superstar Mystery Writer

  • Most popular mystery writer since Agatha Christie
  • Boasts massive crossover audience no real mystery author has
  • Opulent home is completely unaffordable for an author without any movie deals
  • Regularly vexes local chief of police/homicide detective
  • May also be in love with local chief/detective
  • Has an IRL unsolved mystery of his own. It haunts him
  • Lots of people die around him. Like, LOTS
  • Becomes murder suspect himself at least once
Copyright ABC

The Starry-Eyed Dreamer

  • Typically a high school-age girl/college-age woman
  • If she’s not an aspiring poet or an aspiring reporter, we have no idea what kind of writer she wants to be
  • Thinks “It was a dark and story night” is a great way to start a story
  • Dreams of one day traveling the world, because that’s the only way to truly become a writer
  • Eventually dumps romantic partner to do just that, is never heard from again

The Pretentious Auteur

  • Always dresses like he’s going to a job interview
  • You know this guy has an MFA in creative writing and still believes that degree was worth every penny
  • Tends to write in coffee shops where fans can conveniently bump into them and express their admiration
  • When asked for advice, offers it in the most condescending, demoralizing, and dickish way possible
  • Produces one finished piece of writing every decade

The Unhinged Perfectionist

  • Alternates between glaring at a blank screen for hours on end; and bursts of writing feverishly, only to delete everything and rant, “It’s wrong! It’s all wrong!”
  • Always angry, frequently drunk
  • Once he finishes his play, everything will be great. One big break, that’s all he needs…
  • Invariably blames spouse and/or children for his own lack of creativity
  • Has never actually finished anything
Copyright Marvel Comics

The Moody Loner

  • Perpetually unkempt
  • Still uses a typewriter
  • Likes to lock self away from the world for days at a time
  • Fridge is filled with Chinese takeout cartons, empty cartons of milk, and nothing else
  • Which is why they live off coffee
  • Always has a cigarette dangling from his lip and/or a half-empty bottle of Jack Daniels on his desk
  • Only has one friend, his agent/editor/publisher, and ends their every conversation with “I promise I’ll get the manuscript to you as soon as I can”
  • Doesn’t seem to actually enjoy writing
Copyright Columbia Pictures

The Wunderkind

  • Child prodigy
  • Wears glasses meant to make them look wizened, only makes them nerdier
  • Writes better at age ten than most adults
  • Delights in making grownups feel like idiots
  • Capable of soul-crushing insights into the human condition
  • One out of every ten adults is encouraging, the rest dedicate their energy to dream killing because you can’t make a living as a writer, you need a real job

The Master of Horror

  • Comes in three flavors: sinister, manic, or brooding
  • Will always be compared at some point to Stephen King (unless character was created by Stephen King)
  • Wears a lot of black, even at home
  • Has nightmares every single night
  • Driven/inspired by a major childhood trauma
  • Everything they write IS REAL!
Copyright New Line Cinema

The Chick-Lit Queen

  • Friendly and personable
  • Sincerely appreciates her career and fans
  • Casually offers life-changing advice during book signings
  • Cat owner
  • Single and miserable in private. Why can’t she find love as easily as her characters?

The Modern Tolkien

  • Author of a beloved fantasy saga with a legion of fans who obsess over every detail
  • Openly hates his legion of fans
  • And yet he shows up for book signings and conventions, if only to sigh in exasperation whenever someone in costume asks a question
  • Will invariably bark “It’s just a story!” in a fit of pique
  • Almost always a straight white guy

The Romance Author

  • Fanbase is nothing but middle-aged women
  • Writes under a pen name that sounds like a Jane Austen character
  • Every book cover is basically the same long-haired, muscly guy in a pirate shirt holding the same swooning woman with a heaving bosom against the same backdrop of a windswept field
  • 50/50 chance author is actually a macho dude
Copyright The CW/Warner Bros.

The Savant

  • Doesn’t know the first thing about the technical aspects of writing
  • Story gets by on sheer wackiness and shock value
  • Still more entertaining than most literary fiction
  • None of their premises are any weirder than anything Chuck Tingle ever wrote
Copyright Netflix

The One-Hit Wonder

  • The one book they wrote was either a monster success or a crashing failure
  • Has spent the rest of their life trying to write comeback follow-up book
  • Good chance of turning into The Moody Loner until a love interest comes along
  • Everyone they meet will say, “Yeah, I think I’ve heard of you. You wrote that book.”
Copyright Netflix

The Reclusive Genius

  • Wrote one thing and then vanished after a personal tragedy
  • Re-enters the world after an aspiring writer stalks him until he becomes a grudging mentor
  • Home is filled with personal knickknacks that suggest he has a rich and active life — which he doesn’t
  • No clear indication how he makes money
Copyright Columbia Pictures

The Misunderstood Visionary

  • Hardcore sci-fi geek
  • Socially awkward Annoying AF
  • Has never suffered from Imposter Syndrome, but lord, he should
  • He will tell you all about his screenplay
Copyright Paramount Pictures

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