|Because the title of this post is more or less inspired by this episode... plus Andrew. The ultimate Storyteller.|
The past few months I've been in a big reading slump. Alwyn Hamilton broke that slump momentarily with her Traitor to the Throne (which I could not put down!!) but now I find myself re-entering my reading slump. Despite my lack of being able to get into a good book I have been consuming, devouring TV shows. When I say devour I mean for real devouring them. I think it really started with Buffy back in November 2016. I went through like... four months of being sick for weeks on end and so I had lots of time on my hands to watch shows. Let me just say I devoured Buffy and then I went and gobbled up Angel too (as in his show... sometimes I think they should have come up with a different title instead of naming the show after the main character). I'm pretty sure there was another show right after that that I binged too but I can't remember it. The next one I remember eating up is Trollhunters (don't judge!). I felt sort of awful as a writer and as a reader that I'm not reading too many books this year. I'm not devouring them and loving them and searching desperately for more of them. Not with books anyways. TV shows have become my new creative outlet, my new way of gaining inspiration. I devour them and I love them and I search desperately for more of them. Is that bad? Is that wrong as a reader and writer to be more into TV shows than into books?
For a while I thought, how am I supposed to write well, to grow in my writing if I'm not reading books?! One of the biggest rule as a writer is to read. Read, read, read. By reading we not only enjoy ourselves but learn from other writers, masters of the trade if you will. I thought, watching all these shows is great and I love them but how am I supposed to learn and grow my writing by watching TV shows?! There's no sentences and wording I can deconstruct. Just plots and character development and dialogue and setting and world building and, and, and.
I missed the whole point! I told myself TV shows aren't going to teach me how to be a better writer. Not when it comes to descriptions and where to put this word and how this sentence should go. But those are all small stuff! Easily fixed! I was missing the point all along and I finally realized why I have become more drawn to TV shows than I have to books. Yes I will always love books and I crave the next time I will get lost in one and I adore that feeling you get when you just have to stop for a moment and fangirl over that one sentence that was written just perfectly or that one description that makes you green with jealousy because you wished you had come up with it. But TV shows hold so much more. While watching Buffy and Angel and even Trollhunters I've come to realize how much I truly appreciate the art of directing. The certain way the camera is pointing at that one character in that one scene that makes it all so meaningful. The coloring of a scene, the carefully placed props, hidden meanings within settings. A song playing during an emotional moment that just makes you feel deep in your gut for that one character. (The best examples I can give for that is that one part in Power Rangers movie... I won't give any spoilers but that really emotional part near the end when that song is playing. And the end scene between Buffy and Spike in Beneath You). Not to mention the actor's facial expression. The tiniest twitch of the eyebrow or move of a hand. It's so hard to put such minute detail into a book (trust me I have been trying so hard to capture those facial expression and ticks that I now see in my characters whenever I write). It's all so physical and real and right in front of you.
TV shows and movies, even graphic novels and comics, may not teach you sentence structure, how to make a paragraph flow or the other smaller, yet just as important technical parts of writing a book but they do teach you a whole lot. They teach you plot, character arcs, character dynamics, how to write a decent (if epic) romance, how to diversity not only in skin color but in physical attributes and personality, and I think most of all they teach you realistic, well done dialogue. Dialogue is everything in a screen play so when you're absorbing so much TV and movies you inevitably soak in dialogue techniques too that you can apply to your writing. They can even teach you descriptions. With a show you can see the characters face to face. Everything about them. Whether they're tall or short, skinny or heavier. What color hair, skin and eyes they have. Their little ticks and habits. The small "insignificant" things they do with their hands and feet and body and facial expression that makes them, them. Just like with dialogue, if you are absorbing as much TV as I do then you inevitably pick up on those little details and can apply them to your writing.
If you're a writer and your brain is hardwired to write novels or like novel formatted books and yet you find yourself reading more graphic novels/comics/TV shows/movies don't sweat it! Don't feel guilty about it. I've felt a little bit like a hypocrite and kind of guilty for not reading as much even as I sit here and write out a novel... It's this stereotype that all writers much be bookworms and adore books and read books twenty-four/seven and enjoy nothing else except for writing and reading and maybe occasionally a show or movie but books always come first. That's the stereotype that I thought I was for a long time. But as time goes on people change and the way they find inspiration and learn as a writer change too. I still love books. I am dying waiting for A Court of Wings and Ruin and Renegades by Marissa Meyer and I am so buying Our Dark Duet the instant it comes out! Not to mention it is always agony waiting for Shannon Messenger's next book. But those are series and authors that I am - and have been - fiercely loyal to for years and so it's impossible to break the cycle of just not reading their books because I adore them as authors and their characters a ton! Getting into a new series or reading a new book by an author I don't know is slightly harder for me right now so I turn to my familiar TV shows full of familiar actors and that is ok. If you're in a reading slump or are changing as a writer and creative looking for inspiration that is perfectly alright!
So you read those books and watch those shows and fangirl over those movies (any Marvel movie ever!) and you write that novel or short story or novella or screenplay and don't let that stereotype of what a perfect writer is supposed to look like stop you. If you didn't have different creatives and writers out there with variety of what they like and don't like every book would be exactly the same and every writer would be exactly the same! And what fun would that be?
I hope this post has encouraged you guys to keep up the good work and stay motivated as a writer and creative! Have a great week everyone!