Totally into TV for the AtoZ Challenge

Welcome to Day T of the A to Z Challenge. What you will learn this month is: 26 Ways to Procrastinate a Writer
20. The twentieth way to procrastinate a writer is by watching TELEVISION.

Television is one powerful medium for distraction. Any good writer will immerse themselves in the story and approach the TV show in one of two ways.

The writer could look at the show objectively, studying it. Good story elements are found in TV shows. If your writer is stuck on a humorous scene, for example, watching sitcoms is one way to find inspiration. You can’t watch just one show, however. To properly study a genre, a writer needs to watch several episodes of one show, thus seeing different elements of how jokes are portrayed. Does a director use visuals? If so, how can that be translated from pictures into words? Are there specific catch phrases that a writer can use as a private joke to orient readers to a particular time and place? With plagiarism always a concern, a writer must be careful about using official words or taglines. Watching numerous episodes night after night, mingling current seasons with past ones, will demonstrate that to the writer. Television is vital to the writer, and it should be treated as such.

TV is important for use of characters. If a writer’s antagonist is, say, a strong female character, then drama shows become a valuable research tool. There are a variety of shows in different genres that feature such a character, and they should all be explored. Whatever your character and his/her traits, there are sure to be numerous daytime, prime-time and “after hours” cable or satellite shows. Every opportunity to expand the writer’s character should be explored.

If a writer focuses on a particular and ever-popular genre–say, vampires or zombies–research must be done so as to ensure originality is maintained. This is one area a writer should spend hours and hours on. After all, ideas can be gleaned from such immersion and plagiarism can be avoided. It is important to know the rules, if any, of defined genres. If you know the general accepted scenarios, then you can break them. Since the writer is crafting a story on an evergreen subject, there is a wealth of visual information out there, often running at overlapping times. Use of a DVR, On-Demand or subscription service should be utilized for constant content. It is important to stay current with the latest and greatest.

The second way a writer can approach television shows is as pure escapism. After all, the writer has worked hard and deserves a break, so TV provides the appropriate release. The mind absorbs, the eyes are entertained, and the brain is distracted by background noise. This can provide the rest needed to rejuvenate the writer for a productive day tomorrow. Television’s relaxation value should never be undermined. Utilize this as much as possible.

Jayne and writing for television

Jayne grunted as Tom reached over her lap and grabbed the remote control. “Let’s see what’s on,” he said.

What was on TV had been Jayne’s Thursday Night Splurge. She developed an affinity for this particular crime show, one that balanced a bit of law and legalese with drama of the unrequited desire between two of the ensemble cast while solving stories of intrigue and crime. It also had a hot, floppy-hair main character. Jayne decided she should watch that to gain insight into strong male characters and their interactions with coworkers and potential partners. What was now on TV was Thursday Night Sports.

“I was watching that,” Jayne said, brushing her hair behind her ear.

“But the game is on now and I want to watch it,” Tom said.

Jayne knew from his tone that the decision was made and she’d lost the discussion before it began. She walked to the dining table and picked up her notebook.

“You can watch the game with me,” Tom said, looking over his shoulder. “I like your company.”

“I can see it from over here,” Jayne said.

“Okay. I tried,” Tom said and turned back to the game.

Jayne wrote a bit of backstory of her protagonist. She sketched the apartment of her antagonist. She swirled lines and abstract shapes and drew little patterns. The sound of sports was not conducive to her writing. She had certain requirements for background noise, and this was not it. In fact, she shouldn’t even have background noise; she should be watching her show, the only program she mentally scheduled into her week.

Jayne sighed and shuffled back to the couch. She reclined on his chest, but he pushed her up, saying “That’s not comfortable.When Tom went to bed, she knew she had to stay up late and catch the rerun of it.

It had been comfortable for Jayne. Not anymore. She shifted over, hunched down over her sketchbook. She’d be up late tonight watching her show when it repeated in two hours.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Arlee Bird
    Apr 23, 2015 @ 23:41:16

    I do get distracted by TV for a while each week. But I don’t have it on all day.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Wrote By Rote


    • dwhirsch
      Apr 28, 2015 @ 20:34:46

      I grew up on noise, the TV was always background noise, watching was optional. As such, silence creeps me out. But then, if a good episode comes on….


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