Sunday, October 19, 2008

WATCHING TELEVISION CAN HELP WITH WRITING IDEAS

WATCHING TELEVISION CAN HELP WITH WRITING IDEAS:
By Roberta C.M. DeCaprio


I am a reader . . . always was and always will be. As a child, what I read within the pages of a book, took me on adventures my physical ability denied me. Getting lost in a book on a summer’s day took the sting out of the fact my walking disability didn't allow me to ride a bike or roller skate like the other neighborhood children were able to do. It passed the time, appeased an active imagination and later on in years fueled a writing career.
Now that I am a writer and published author, I read books differently. Grant you, getting caught up in the plot is still first and foremost, but I like examining sentence structure, how the writer moves the characters within the scene, and especially how the character’s point of view is expressed in dialogue, thought and action. Studying the facets that make a good novel has helped me to polish and fine tune my own writing….but so does watching television.
Watching the boob tube lately is not as lame as one might think. I don’t sit and watch television all day (if I did I’d never get any writing done), but I do tune in to a few shows that have stimulated my imagination and given me many ideas.
Television shows throughout the decades seem to go in themes.
During the late 50’s and early 60’s the westerns ruled. I remember watching such shows as Gunsmoke, Maverick, Cheyenne, Rifleman, Wagon Train and Bonanza with my father on the weeknights. On Saturday mornings the children’s old west line up were such shows as Roy Rogers and Dale Evens, The Lone Ranger, Wild Bill Hickcock, Hop-a-long Cassidy and Annie Oakley. I was in love with Fess Parker’s portrayal of Davy Crockett and had a Davy Crockett coon-skin hat, with fringe and a watch I wore constantly. Recently I found a vintage Davy Crockett watch on Ebay and bought it…keeping alive a childhood memory. Remembering the way the characters dressed, how they lived, the Indian and cowboy conflict and even the way they rode their horses across the sandy desert, have all helped me in writing my first historical western, The Golden Lady . . . recently contracted by The Wild Rose Press. I smile doing the edits, because it has taken 25 years for an editor (thank you Patricia Tanner) to enjoy and see the potential in a western romance.
During the middle 60’s medical shows took over the air waves. I remember watching Ben Casey, Doctor Kildare, Medical Center, Marcus Welby, M.D., and Trapper John, M.D. These male characters….strong, intelligent, gentle, caring and wanting love have been the catalyst for many of my heroes.
The 70’s brought sit-coms like Happy Days, Lavern and Shirley and All in the Family. These were light hearted, feel good shows that made you laugh as well as drive home a motto here and there. These shows have well seasoned the dialogue I use between friends or the funny moments I place my lovers in from time to time.
In the 80’s we had the night soap operas like Dallas, Knots Landing and Dynasty. I loved the characters, the way they dressed and their ever-scheming points of view. A treasure chest of plots came from these shows. Everyone was so wonderfully dysfunctional and diabolical.
The 90’s gave way for the many legal, crime scene investigation and drama type shows, challenging us to think. Oh, the wonderful villains they helped me to create.
Currently we have tons of reality shows, but paranormals are sweeping the time slots too. With such shows as Lost, Medium, Ghost Whisperer, Supernatural, Moonlight, Journeyman, Smallville, The Sara Connor Chronicles, New Amsterdam; and now Fringe, Life On Mars, and The Mentalist, we’ve got quite a pick.
The motion picture industry has also cashed in on the paranormal craze. Within the last few years alone, either in a theater or rented on DVD, I’ve seen What Lies Beneath, The Witches of Eastwick, Death Becomes Her, Lord of the Rings series, Stardust, The Legend of the Water Horse, The Lady in the Water, Signs, Sixth Sense, The Village, The Golden Compass, The Chronicles of Nardia (The Witch, the Lion & the Wardrobe), all three Pirates of the Caribbean movies….love that Johnny Depp, Beowulf, War of the Worlds, I Am Legend, Premonition, Lake House, Harry Potter series, Spiderwick, Jump and coming November 21st, Stephenie Meyers first book of her Twilight series, entitled the same.
It seems demons, time travel, aliens and visitors from beyond the grave make for fascinating amusement. Looking back I realize paranormal shows were always of great entertainment and peppered throughout the decades.
The first one that comes to my mind is Topper….the story of a man who was constantly being visited by his deceased relatives and their dead dog. I loved The Outer Limits and the ingenious minds of Rod Serling (Twilight Zone) and Alfred Hitchcock. These shows added suspense and horror to the paranormal twist.
The science fiction and fantasy shows like Lost in Space, Its About Time, I Dream of Jeanne, Star Trek, Batman and Quantum Leap opened up a wealth of legends, myths, mystical enchantment, magical scenes and special effects to draw from in just about every aspect of the supernatural realm.
Walt Disney made his fortune from the enchanted with Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Pinocchio, Peter Pan, and Beauty and the Beast. His theme parks all over the world do nothing but cater to the fantasy realm.
So don’t feel guilty to turn on your television. And you don’t need kids or grandkids to take in paranormal movies….just the desire to be swept away.
Look, listen, and learn, then go to your computer and write!

1 comment:

Paty Jager said...

Nice post!