Really Bad TV

Dear Writers:

I frequently wonder if other writers share my not-too-secret penchant for really bad TV—not necessarily awful shows but as in TV time that’s really bad for getting other stuff done and can turn your brain into “mushy-mush,” to quote Hulu.

I get obsessed with certain shows for brief periods of time, and it’s always—almost always—related to an element of a story I’m working on. Writing for my Shoeless collection, I had a protagonist who drove an excavator, so I started watching Swamp Loggers to better understand large machinery in motion and how it’s maintained. Drafting a story set in Alaska drove me to Deadliest Catch, research and a cool show to boot.

But recently my TV taste went awry. I fell into watching The Bachelor, and now it’s the Monday night event at my house. This morning, after catching up on a few Bachelor blogs, I found my writing reason for being hooked on the show: It’s because the show allows the viewer to know more than the star!

The viewer gets a true backstage pass to insights from other people who interact with the star, allowing the viewer the exquisite delight of mentally wishing the beleaguered star to make better choices and knowing he won’t. It’s that principle of story that’s always fascinating and compelling when accomplished on the page.

Whether your reader is thinking: Do not go downstairs! or Do not marry that deceiving gal!, the great fun is of course being pretty sure that the character will fling himself down the stairs and into the arms of that very gal and find big trouble. It’s the stuff of engaging stories—we all know that stories are about trouble, and if your story doesn’t have trouble, it’s definitely in trouble.

Here’s some sweet stuff:

  • Great news for anyone seeking to connect with other writers or join a writing group! Community Outreach Director Paul Hanson at Village Books will host Keep Yourself Writing with Writing Groups this Saturday at 4 pm. Since arriving at Village Books, one of Paul’s goals has been to help get writing groups going, including a Village Books–sponsored writing group. Saturday’s event will feature a panel of Village Books staff and other local writers.
  • I’m your emcee at the next open mic at Village Books this coming Monday. Bring your Valentine tales of the beloved, the unloved, the undead—or any creative work in progress.
  • Props to writer Alicia Jamtaas for launching her blog, Ashes and Bone. Lish, I love the story about Sarah and Mark that inspired your writing!
  • Props also to longtime independent editor and writer Jilanne Hoffmann for adding a blogspot to her repertoire at Jill and I went to grad school together and I’ve valued her creative insights for years.
  • And props as well to the inimitable writer and illustrator Nina Laden on her latest book announcement, Does A Feather Remember? due from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers—see Nina’s blog at The Night I Followed the Blog, whose title always cracks me up because it’s hacked from one of my favorite books of hers. Nina, artist/writer Paul Owen Lewis and I will again co-teach the Kids Book Writing class for WWU starting April 3.

As always, send me your writing-related events announcements so I can help spread the word! If you feel like it, tell a couple people about this blog. For more details about upcoming events and classes, visit

BTW: Now that I’ve figured out the relevant craft point, I have no justifiable reason to actually watch the last couple episodes of The Bachelor. But I know I will. Because I’ve passed the point in the story where I can put it down and I now just need to know how it ends.

xo Laurel Leigh

6 thoughts on “Really Bad TV

  1. Pingback: April 2012 Open Mic « Dear Writers

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