Thursday, January 24, 2008

TV Shows that Inspire My Writing (aka Stuff I Like to Watch)

Tip of the Day: Keep a notebook on/in your nightstand for late night inspirations.

A couple of weeks ago my tip of the day was to tell your significant other that your TV watching was research. Well, I wasn’t totally kidding about that—I find lots of inspiration from my favorite TV shows. From little things like what the current fashions are to current slang. And sometimes I like to pick three or four characters off of different shows and mush them all together to make a new character for one of my books. Like, one part McDreamy + one part Pacey Wither + one part Brandon Walsh= ??? Ok, I’m not sure about this particular combo but that’s an example of what I like to do at times.

So here’s a list of some of my favorites. And yeah, some of them are in reruns. But there is good stuff to be found in old shows too!

The Hills

Love, love, love it. The romance, the fights, the glitzy glamour of the teen fashion magazine industry, I love it all. Ok, I know 90% of it is scripted (I mean, how many times can sworn enemies run into each other at dinners/parties/clubs) but it’s brilliant. Good source for writing those fight scenes—I mean, don’t you love Lauren’s face each time Heidi does something to piss her off? Her eyes get big like she’s shocked out of her mind, her jaw drops open, and then you see fury flash across her face. And the best line ever was when Heidi asked for forgiveness and Lauren said, “I want to forgive you. And then I want to forget you.” Ooooh burn.

American Idol

I mean, OMG, what a wonderful bunch of characters they troop across that stage each year! There are so many little personality things you can pick up from watching these people and use in your books. Endless opportunities. And lots of the latest fashions once the competition starts on the stage. And the singing is groovy too of course.

Big Brother

You know that thing about when you don’t know what else to write throw something at your characters that will mess with their lives? Ok, Big brother is like 80 days of that. Messing with people continuously. It’s so inspiring. J

Grey’s Anatomy

Yeah, I don’t get much from all the medical mumbo jumbo as far as writing for teens, but the romance problems are always abundant.

Gossip Girl

Truthfully, I have a handful of episodes on DVR that I haven’t caught up on yet but when I do watch it I like it. Do I think it is realistic as far as your average teen? Not so much. But the roller coaster relationships between friends and boyfriends/girlfriends seem dead on.

Dawson’s Creek

I LOVE the creek! The constant love triangles! Drama, drama, drama. Although I’ve yet to meet real teens that talk like the kids on that show did. Let’s start a petition for a Dawson’s Creek reunion eh?


I tend to like the college years better than the high school years but the drama was heavy all 10 years the show ran. The styles are of course, completely out of date (construction boots on girls anyone?) but the boyfriend stealing and relationship problems are timeless.

Little House on the Prairie

Yeah it’s old. Real old. And I’ve seen each episode like 63 times. But come on it has Nellie Olson. The original mean girl.

Ok, I’ll stop there or you guys will think I do nothing but watch TV. But just on the chance that I can somehow squeeze in a little extra TV time somewhere in my busy schedule, what shows do you find inspiring to your writing?

And just for fun, I’ll throw out a little trivia question: What current reality tv show host appeared on 90210?

Kristina, Miss Soon-to-Pub


Ghost Girl (aka, Mary Ann) said...

Oh, that's a hoot, Tina! I'm not really sure what I take from TV. For me, it's mostly Law and Order, American Idol (yes, that characters!), Project Runway (another mine of characters!), Medium (I started my book before the show started--thieves!--but I love it!).

Okay, now back to work. Reading! (and eventually writing again!)

Jessica Burkhart (Jess Ashley) said...

Yay for another BB fan! I can't wait for the new season. :)

Emily Marshall said...

Tina, I love this post. Excellent suggestions on TV viewing. Might I throw in:

* One Tree Hill--which is also drama central

* reruns of Veronica Mars -- because I can't let this show go and I find it particularly helpful with my books

* reruns Gilmore Girls -- another one I can't let go, but the small town characters are great for thinking about the small towns in my books.

* And gameshows and reality TV are great for getting "characters" you are right. It's like they can only show you so much about one person in a show to have them fit a certain category. Pure gold. I also like Amazing Race (they aren't so out there and alittle more realistic)

Emily Marshall said...

And I don't know the TV trivia Tina, but I love the question. Unless you are speaking of Tori Spelling and her reality show, but I don't think that counts since she's really more than a host and I don't even know if it's on anymore. OMG, I'm stumped. I should have watched more 90210.

DeenaML said...

I don't know the answer to your trivia question, Tina, but I'm glad you didn't say you were inspired by Crowned. :) Well, it does have some nutso mom characters on it!

And 90210 was really on for 10 years? Holy crap.

What I like about TV dramas is noting what I notice in the setting, so I can remember to put those sort of details into my writing. That's usually what I need the most help with.

Kristina Springer said...

Oooh thanks for the suggestions! I just went and put first season DVDs on hold at the library online. And Jessica-- I'm so excited about BB starting too! :-)

And the answer is NOT Tori Spelling. It is a real reality show host (not like a person that is part of a reality show). This person only appeared on one episode of 90210. I'll post the answer tonight. :-)

Kate Fall said...

Wow, I don't watch any of those shows. But what I always liked about TV shows is how the characters are stuck where they are and stuck with each other and can't get out. Like how do you explain why these opposing characters are always together? TV's good at that. Maybe one day I'll write the YA version of Gilligan's Island.

Did anyone watch the After People special on the History Channel this week? That was an inspiring post-apocalyptic setting.

Kristina Springer said...

Ok-- for anyone still wondering the answer to the trivia question...


Yup. He was looking awfully young and played the part of a game show host when Kelly and Matt were doing a love game show (and Donna stepped in when Kelly got sick).

Emily Marshall said...

Interesting, Tina. I didn't know that. I love TV trivia. This was fun.