5 Best Quotes: Learning from The Princess Bride

What more is there to say about The Princess Bride? Quotes from this 30 year old cult classic are common currency among writing AND sailing friends of all ages, because it’s a movie people of all passions and generations can enjoy.

I’d been meaning to write a blog post about writing lessons from The Princess Bride ever since my Escape to WUnderland last November. Then everyone started buzzing about the cast reunion and read-through, and I realized I still hadn’t collected my thoughts into a post. So here are 5 quotes from The Princess Bride that teach us something about writing (and life).

“You rush a miracle man, you get rotten miracles.” Miracle Max reminds us that anything worth doing takes more time than we think it should.

The right word makes a difference. Inigo Montoya might not be a genius (except with his sword), but he knows that Vizzini’s repeated use of the word “inconceivable!” is not quite right. So he finally responds: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” 

Repeated lines can serve as story markers. The best example is the most frequently quoted sequence of the movie: “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” If he hadn’t explained the context early on, his increasingly determined repetition at the end (when Inigo battles the six-fingered man) would not have had nearly the same impact.

“Have fun storming the castle!” Enjoy every fresh challenge you set for yourself, even if it seems like a very bad idea to everyone else.

My personal favorite: “Are they using the same wind we are?” can be interpreted in many different ways. While I usually take it literally (how many times has a competitor caught up from behind, racing downwind?), it can also serve as an important reminder: we shouldn’t compare ourselves (and our work) to anyone else.

Got another favorite line, and maybe even a lesson? Share it in the comments below. Meanwhile, I’ll leave you with our hero Westley’s ahead-of-his-time response to why he wears a mask: “I think everybody will in the near future. They’re terribly comfortable.”

PS: Westley wrote a book! Who knew??

10 Replies to “5 Best Quotes: Learning from The Princess Bride”

  1. Andy, yes! I think the lesson from this quote is: Don’t reveal all your secrets too early. 🙂

  2. Egad! You miss-quoted Inigo. The correct quote is “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”

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