Why I Watch a Lot of Movies and TV
Updated: Jul 18, 2020
Writing isn't just about putting words onto the page. It's also about filling your head with ideas, both the good and the bad ones. I relish the good ones. They make me think and cultivate ideas of my own. The bad ones remind me of what I don't like; sloppy stories and hackneyed or lazy plot twists make me go, "ugh." Where else can you find all these different facets of storytelling other than in books? Television and movies.
Take the series. Long or short. There are so many clever timeframes out there on streaming services these days. I love the ones that are like six episodes long and then you have to wait for the next season. I think the Brits do an excellent job of this and now the U.S. market is finally catching on. Series - that's both singular and plural, by the way - are excellent resources for long and short form storytelling as well as meta-stories or stories within stories. I love binging different series so that I can get a good sense of the story arcs. I'm also impatient and don't like to wait to find out what comes next.
Movies are also fascinating to study for story development and execution. Screenwriters hook you, drawing you into the story and the characters' lives within the first ten minutes, if they're good at what they do. When you pay attention you know within these first few minutes if you're going to like the film or not. Just as within the first few pages of a great novel or short story, the best movies introduce you to the main character(s), show you the setting, establish the tone or storytelling voice of the film, and something happens that leads to a problem that drives the story along.
So the next time you watch an episode of a show or a film that you love (or don't) try this out. Look for these five key elements and you'll see what I mean. I find it fascinating to watch TV and films in this way. If I don't enjoy the stories or the way the writers tell them, at least I learn something!