a.k.a. Reading and Watching as a Writer
Do you try to lose yourself in a story only to find yourself noticing things like plot holes, inconsistencies, or inspiration for a story idea? Is it really what you see is what you get (WYSIWYG)? Once I’m in writer mode, I find it challenging to detach and just enjoy a story for what it is. The complete opposite was true when I had stopped writing for a while. I didn’t have the drive to write so my consumption of stories were more to pass the time than to actually study them. Is there a middle ground?
As a visual learner, when I read a book, I’m also catching myself observing everything from word choice to syntax. I even look at the formatting and layout. The placement of words on a page, the punctuation, the font choices, they each have a specific intention and impact. So do typos or misprints. In movies, we have artistic choices of camera angles, lighting, marrying words and action together for the most impactful or meaningful scene. Each book, show, and movie you dive into is a masterclass in storytelling, the dos and the don’ts, or even the whys and the why the heck nots.
Are there really any rules in story creation? Sure, there are tried and true formulas that people swear by while others opt to break from convention. Just this week, the topic for specific story templates (rom-com, hero’s journey, etc.) were up for debate in one of my writing groups. I’m going to delve further into these and my WIPs on an upcoming Writerly Wednesday post.
While I don’t make definitive reading/viewing decisions based on ratings, it’s interesting to see what other people think prior to and after I experience the medium. I look at descriptions and (hopefully) spoiler-free reviews on sites such as Goodreads, IMDB, and Rotten Tomatoes. Since we’re not currently interfacing with friends and family like we used to, social media is where I go for in-depth discussion–or all-out word wars–on opinions and observations of the piece. I like watching YouTube videos that break down plot points or explore hidden meanings behind the various Easter eggs that are sprinkled throughout a movie or episode. When I’m left with more questions than answers, I like to find out what other people are thinking, too.
Much like previously mentioned in regards to music, each of us also see and appreciate books, tv, and film differently. So whether I’m seeing things as a writer or consumer, it makes for interesting discussions when I bring up something that intrigued me that someone else missed or vice versa. It’s also worthwhile to have those discussions how it might appear that we’re looking at the same thing and come away with very different interpretations.
Whether it’s on paper, device, or screen, it’s not necessarily a bad thing if your writer brain is permanently switched on. We should soak in every learning opportunity where we can. It makes us better writers. You can discover in real time what other people think of the book, show, or film. From that you can determine what not to do or how you’d tackle the same challenge differently. One thing is for certain, when I finish reading or seeing a great story unfold, I’m excited and inspired to make sure my stories are the best they can be so I can share them with the world, too.
Stay creative, stay weird, be kind to yourself and others.
Until next time,