Sometimes it may feel like you’re procrastinating by seeing a movie or binge-watching your favorite TV series, but… well, yes, you’re probably procrastinating. BUT that doesn’t mean that these things won’t help your writing.
Here are three ways that movies and TV will help your writing:
1. Character Arcs.
Sometimes it’s easy to get lost in your plot when you’re writing. The characters can suffer as a result. If your only focus is on what happens next, then your characters are just along for the ride and they don’t actually learn or grow from the experience. Now, don’t get me wrong, sometimes books like that work, but for the most part, readers want to experience some kind of an arc with your characters.
Television is the best example of this, simply because they have the time to really delve into a character’s life and backstory. In a movie the creators have a limited time to tell the story AND have the character grow and change from the experience. BOTH are important to observe for your writing.
TV is more like a book where you can explore much more about each and every character and really build the arc you want. Next time you’re watching a show, pick out one of your favorite characters and think back to who that character was when you first saw them in the pilot episode. Now, think of where they are now in the TV storyline. Usually, they’re almost different characters because they’ve been through so much on the show and if it’s a well-written show, big events WILL change a person.
Try to apply that to your own story, from where they start to where they end up. Watching TV can really help you create a step-by-step guide to fleshing out your characters.
Movies on the other hand do what a book or TV show can do in a matter of two hours! That takes some seriously skill! Watching movies and in particular character arcs, is a great way to see how a story can be told succinctly and efficiently.
2. Cut away the fat.
Observing TV and movies in an analytical way can definitely help you trim away the fat of your writing.
In the case of TV, admittedly, there are a lot of shows that use what I call “filler.” Filler is when there are scenes that just feel like they’re stalling for time. I’m sure everyone knows what I’m talking about. Pretty much anything that doesn’t add to the character development or plot in any way. (i.e. Terry Bellefleur's funeral in True Blood! I loved the guy, but almost 30 minutes of a funeral! Maybe if it had been Sookie or Bill, but Terry?!!! Come on!) But these scenes are great to learn from. If you find yourself bored or tuning out during scenes like these, that’s probably what your readers will do if you write something similar.
Use these observations and trim, trim, trim. Think of all your favorite shows that rarely have filler and try and make every moment count in your writing.
Movies are the perfect example of trimming the fat. (Unless of course you’re watching a Michael Bay movie, he’s the king of keeping scenes that have no business being in any movie ever lol) But overall, movies are a great example of how to tone up your story and make it shine.
Yes, this may fall into the procrastination category, but never underestimate the rejuvenating power of entertainment. I know, the guilt alone could crush you when you’re supposed to be working, but the thing is: writers are always working. Whether or not you’re writing words on a page, a writer’s brain is always thinking of their stories in the back of their minds.
Watching TV or movies can be a distraction or it can be an inspiration. It all depends on how your mind wants to interpret it. It’s up to you, really. As long as you keep on writing, think of movies and television as research. They’re the perfect examples of what to do and what not to do.
So get off your couch and start writing! Oh wait… get back to your couch and start watching!
I'm a writer of YA fiction, fiction, comics, television and movies. I try to make all my stories full of jumbly goodness :-)