Watch and learn

Apologies for being AWOL on Friday. My work-work (as opposed to my writing-work) had an all-day, off-site retreat. It was good times with great people, at the lovely Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill.

Later that night I watched The Town, which I thought was quite good, and I finished reading THE DUFF, which I loved. Now I may or may not have a raging crush on Wesley. I also may or may not be a wee bit jealous of the author, Miss Kody Keplinger, a bona fide teen writer of teen books. But mostly I admire her and wish her continued success. (Particularly if she gives me more Wesley!)

The rest of my weekend was spent recuperating from my recent travels, and catching up on writing-work. I did all right, but there’s always more, isn’t there?

Hindering me (just a bit) was the start of the new fall seasons. I’m down to a handful of TV shows — Life Unexpected, Glee, and Grey’s Anatomy — but I’ve been disappointed with Glee recently, and now I mostly “watch” for the songs. The only new show I’m checking out is Nikita, to support my fellow halfie Maggie Q, so I’ll weigh in on that later.

Now, I joke that TV is a waste of time, and in some ways, sure, it is. But well-written TV actually inspires me. It helps me think about character development, plot arcs, sharp dialogue, and scenes that function well on multiple levels. Episodes are like chapters, seasons like novels. It’s not apples to apples, but it can be informative.

I’m not saying to watch a bunch of television and call it research — and if you do, definitely don’t credit me — but I think it’s important for writers to keep their eyes peeled for potential learning opportunities. I mean, if you’re going to spend that time, you may as well make it useful, right?

That’s how I justify it when Andy asks. ^_~

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13 Comments

  1. Sounds like a great justification to me! I started watching Nikita and really love it. Enjoy your “research.”. :)

  2. I like watching TV. I really like the experience of seeing/hearing stories, but it’s very, very few TV shows or movies that inspire me to write or make me think about writing. It does happen, though. A movie I recently saw that has gotten under my skin is “(500) Days of Summer.” I really like the way it was structured. So effective! But if it influences my writing, it will be subconsciously.

    What has directly affected all of the novels I’ve written are songs. (Doesn’t happen for short stories for some reason.) For instance, the theme song for “On the Chase” was the Eagles, “Take It Easy.”

  3. Agh I tried to watch Nikita but I found it slow and boring, way too much mundane dialogue, the USA one was sooo much better.
    Heh but I do think watching TV is good research for writers, so keep at it ;)

  4. I definitely agree about the similarities, especially with shows like Grey’s Anatomy that have clear storyline arcs and such strong character development. I’ve always admired Shonda’s (and all the writers who work on the show) talent.

    What did you think of the premiere?

  5. I get excited when new shows come on, but rarely watch anything on a regular basis after a few episodes unless they really draw me in. Glee, Fringe, Masterchef, Dual Survivor…those are my favourites. My favourite character?? Walter from Fringe. He’s the best mad scientist I’ve ever seen!!

  6. Kimberly and Aisha-
    I somehow managed to watch the Nikita pilot yesterday (the CWTV.com web player SUCKS) and I agree with Aisha that there was too much talky talky. But it was interesting enough (like Alias meets Dark Angel) that I’ll check out the next couple of episodes that I (thank god) have on DVR.

    Sonja-
    Love that movie! Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel are so cute/good in it! And yes, the style/structure of storytelling is so clever and engaging. I also really liked the drawing style used in the title scenes, but that’s neither here nor there. :P

    Shari-
    I thought it was a solid start to the season. Personally, I thought seasons 3-5 were pretty much crap, but 1,2 and 6 were fairly golden. I’m hoping 7 can continue the upward trend. I AM a little annoyed by the fact that no one has relationships outside the hospital… but whatevs. They’re doing a good job unraveling the damage from last season.

    Sarah-
    You know, I think I would love Fringe, but I didn’t catch onto it quickly enough. Maybe someday I’ll go back and watch it all the way through (like I did with Sex and the City). Not sure about Masterchef or Dual Survivor though, lol…

  7. Les

    Hey I’ve been AWOL for like, a week. I’ll see if I can be bothered to put a post up tonight haha.

  8. THE DUFF rocks! I love finding a book like that which I speed through. If you want another good book, check out ROOM. It’s not YA, but I couldn’t put it down. It’s narrated by a five year old.

  9. Les-
    Mission accomplished! I bet it was satisfying to cross that off your to-do list. ;)

    Rachele-
    I’ve heard great things about the ROOM, it’s definitely on my TBR list. As are all the John Green books you keep raving about… ;P

  10. I’d love to review your books on my blog, and on Amazon.

  11. I appreciate that, Hayley! Right now I only have my episodic chick lit novel on Amazon, if you’re interested in that: http://www.amazon.com/Twenty-Somewhere-ebook/dp/B002HMDU9M/

    Otherwise you’ll probably have to wait a couple years while I get an agent and a book deal. ;)

  12. Oh good I’m not the only one! I think writers have a lot to learn from TV (or am I just being lazy?) Reading is obviously our best and most relevant past time, but I find that lots can be learned about character development and plot via TV, especially all those drama series. Now where’s my popcorn?

    P.S. I’m hosting my first blogfest called Animal Writes where we’ll be writing through the perspective of an animal. Consider this a friendly invitation!

  13. Haha, well *I* certainly don’t think you’re being lazy. I think you’re being efficient! ;) Thanks for the invite! Honestly I doubt if I’ll have time to participate in this particular blogfest, but if I do, I’ll definitely link up!

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