Guest Tanya Agler

What I’ve Learned about Writing from Movies

Thank you so much to Missy Tippens and Seekerville for allowing me to be today’s guest blogger. I started reading Seekerville in 2013, and I’m so thankful for this community as it has supported me through my writing journey, including the call I received from Harlequin Heartwarming in January of 2019 for my debut novel The Sheriff’s Second Chance. From the beginning, I’ve learned so much about perseverance, plotting, and writing from this great group of authors and their supporters, readers and writers alike. When I sat and contemplated what possible piece of advice I could add, writer’s block crept in and I froze like a doe in headlights. Then, I remembered how open and honest the contributors have been and that gave me my idea. Anyone who’s been around me, even for a short time, knows I love classic movies. I’m talking Cary Grant and Irene Dunne and Jimmy Stewart movies. So here are some lessons I’ve learned from movies about writing.

1.     “Life is a banquet…!” Rosalind Russell as Auntie Mame in Auntie Mame

Whenever I write, this is one lesson I think of quite often. When I apply this lesson to the act of writing, it reminds me how fortunate I am and I ask myself whether I’m smiling. Here I am with the time and a story to write. To me, writing is a banquet, and I hope I’m taking time to enjoy the process and enjoy my characters. Plus, I love that this quote has a double meaning. I not only think of my writing process as a banquet, but I also think of the book itself as a banquet of emotions. When I work on the first draft, I remind myself to question whether my character’s lives are a banquet of laughter and tears, of joy and sorrow, of emotions of all kinds.

What I’ve Learned about Writing from Movies

2.     “That should be in the brief. That’s the most interesting part of the case.” Judge Bryson in My Favorite Wife starring Cary Grant and Irene Dunne

When I’m editing, I think about what is in my head versus what is on the page. That’s one reason I now wait for two weeks after completing a first draft to start editing. That way I read what I wrote rather what I thought I wrote. When I read through the manuscript for the first time, this quote often pops into my head as a reminder to make sure the most interesting parts of the story are written on the page. Is there romance? Did I show the attributes of the heroine that made the hero fall in love with her and vice versa? Is the story interesting?

3.     “There’s a lot to be said for making people laugh.” Joel McCrea as John L. Sullivan in Sullivan’s Travels

This is another one of my go-to lines during editing. When I’m reading through for the final time before I hit send, did I laugh? Did I cry? I hope that doesn’t sound vain, but if my characters aren’t making me feel something, I might not be able to say the same for my readers either.

4.     “No man is a failure who has friends.” Clarence’s book inscription to George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life

As I wrote at the beginning of the blog, I was fortunate to start following Seekerville in 2013, and it was my critique partner who introduced me to Seekerville, My writing friends and supporters have helped me through this journey with its twists and turns of rejection and reviews. Some say writers need thick skins, but I find friends cheering me on from the sidelines and even helping me on the path itself has lifted me up on a number of occasions, and I’m thankful for all of them.

5.     “Worse, I can’t seem to stop saying things. Everything I think and feel.” Julie Andrews as Maria in The Sound of Music

In this exchange, Maria is talking to the Mother Abbess about singing and praying as they discuss Maria’s behavior in the abbey. At other times in the movie, Maria offers prayers to God during mealtime, at bedtime, and during thunderstorms. Throughout my writing journey, prayer has played an integral role in reminding me of God’s grace, His mercy, and His love.

Are there any movie quotes that resonate with you in your writing journey?

Tanya has generously offered to give away a print copy of The Sheriff’s Second Chance (plus some surprises) to a U.S. winner or an e-book copy to a Canadian winner. Please let us know in the comments if you’d like to be entered!

Broken things can’t be fixed…Or can they?

Officer and single dad Mike Harrison doesn’t believe in second chances. Ever. That is, until he learns that his former best friend—gorgeous green-eyed car mechanic Georgie Bennett—is back in town. Unfortunately, she’s also a suspect in a recent break-in! But it’ll take an old classic car to show Mike and Georgie that almost anything can be restored with a little patience…and a whole lot of love.

What I’ve Learned about Writing from Movies
An award-winning author, Tanya makes her home in Georgia with her wonderful husband, their four children, and a lovable Basset, who really rules the roost. Her debut novel, The Sheriff’s Second Chance, is a January 2020 Harlequin Heartwarming release and is available on Amazon and When she’s not writing, Tanya loves classic movies and a good cup of tea. Visit her at or email her at