Our Masterpieces...Err, Our Novels

Monday, September 26, 2011

How Fall Premiere TV Is A lot Like First Pages

Writing Song of the Day: "Idiot Box" by Incubus

Okay, so if you follow our blog you know how much we loves us some TV. Perhaps, too much. And that's why we realized we had to cut down on it in order to spend more time with our first love, writing. We talked a lot about that here, so we won't bore you with the deets again. Although we're limiting the shows we watch, there are still quite a few that are listed on a white piece of paper hanging on the fridge titled: "TV Watching Schedule". We've seen a few of the Fall premiers thus far and have gained some insight on how much premiere TV is like a novel's first few pages:

Make sure you have believable stakes. If your first pages don't set up a scenario where the stakes are high, than the reader is most likely going to ask a million questions. Like: why does she have to take on her sister's persona? Or: Why didn't she just stay in protective custody?

*From watching Ringer on The CW, Tuesdays at 9:00 PM

Introduce your characters with a bang. Each and every important character to your novel should have something about them that will make the reader want to learn more from the very beginning. If you do this, even with a supporting character who doesn't show up until say page 5, then it's quite possible you might hook that reader who was beginning to lose interest in the story.

*From watching Two and Half Men (for the FIRST TIME) on CBS, Mondays at 9:00 PM

Make sure your plot lines don't get tangled. You can start off with an awesome first chapter. Each character is fresh and unique, your story hooks the reader right from the first scene, and the new kid is pushed into a world that is so utterly different from his/her own that the reader feels empathy and can't wait to see what happens next...but if you forget about said new kid's drama and focus more on the overall theme in the next chapter, then the reader's gonna get a little confused. Set up the story a little bit more before throwing every single lead for a new plot in chapter two.

*From watching The Secret Circle on The CW, Thursdays at 9:00 PM

If you have a series keep the story lines fresh, dig deep for new ideas, and turn one of your characters into someone completely different. It's hard to continuously pull in a reader when you're regurgitating the same old plot line. So, if you have a series and it's based on witches, vampires, werewolves, selkies--whatever, look up some old myths and look up other creatures that might have something to do with your supe of choice. Oh, and it never hurts to make a character who was once a goody two shoes a bada** mo fo. That will definitely keep things fresh.

*From watching Supernatural on The CW, Fridays at 9:00 PM, and The Vampire Diaries on The CW, Thursdays at 8:00 PM.

What do you all think? Does watching premiere shows help you with writing your own beginnings?


Meredith said...

Oh man, yes. YES. I especially agree with you on the first point. Unbelievable stakes or not-at-all-thought-out plot lines is the number one reason I change the channel (or set down the book).

Racquel Henry said...

Great post. Number one (Introduce characters with a bang) is an excellent one. I learn A LOT from watching TV, as crazy as that sounds. LOL. :)

Rebecca B said...

Yes! I cringe at all of the pilot episode info-dumps and backstory forced into awkward dialogue. As a watcher, I'd rather learn things slowly and have the opportunity to get curious--rather than have too much information presented in a sloppy way. I think the same is true for books/reading, so I'm trying to work on withholding information and creating intrigue in my WIP.
Wonderful analogy!

Jamie Manning said...

Excellent post! And you know I loves me some TV, too! You provided some very helpful tips (and I think I may have followed them all correctly--we'll see!). I had to cut back on TV as well, but I did it a bit differently...Instead of cutting back on what shows I watch, I just record everything I wanna watch and pick a few days a week to sit in front of the tube...works out great!
Thanks Lovelies! :)

whispering words said...

Great post! Thank you for the tips. I agree, characters should enter with a bang but the story should build up slowly with just enough intrigue to keep you turning the pages. I think having a hot main character helps to :)

A.J. Mullarky said...

I can't stand Two and a Half Men. I love the Vampire Diaries though, but I skipped over that bit jic of spoilers! :P

Alicia Gregoire said...

Great post. I watched The Secret Circle last week and cringed the entire way through.