Monday, May 14, 2012

Why Writers Should Watch TV (+ giveaway)

Hi, all!
In case you didn't know,
I'll be in class learning how to FAST DRAFT with author Candace Havens today.
I've heard nothing but great things from this course, and I need any help I can get to shut out my internal editor. Will let you know what happens...

In the meantime, I am soooooooo happy to have author
Allie Pleiter with me today. Please lend her your eyeballs and read about why you should watch more TV.
Oh, and check out her new book HOMEFRONT HERO.

A little about Allie:

An avid knitter, coffee junkie, and devoted chocoholic, Allie Pleiter writes both fiction and non-fiction.  The enthusiastic but slightly untidy mother of two, Allie spends her days writing books, buying yarn, and finding new ways to avoid housework.  Allie hails from Connecticut, moved to the Midwest to attend Northwestern University, and currently lives outside Chicago, Illinois.  The “dare from a friend” to begin writing has produced two parenting books, fourteen novels, and various national speaking engagements on faith, women’s issues, and writing.  Visit her website at or her knitting blog at

Authors should watch television.
I’ll rephrase that: writers should watch good television.

Why?  Because good storytelling is good storytelling, no matter what the medium.  We love characters in books for the same reason we love characters in television--because they feel real, they have goals, they face conflicts.  I adore it when a television character surprises me because I’m too good at picking out the obvious plots.  My son refuses to watch TV with me now because all too often I’ve figured out the plot and can’t seem to help blurting out things before they happen.  To me they’re painfully obvious--because I’m a storyteller--but to others maybe not so much.

When I find some television with stand-out writing (current faves include CASTLE, SHERLOCK, DR. WHO, and MAD MEN), I make a point to watch closely. 

As such, I’ve been bingeing on episodes of SMASH lately.  While it feeds my theater-major past, it’s also got fabulous, multi-layered characters who genuinely surprise me.  Fussy, bad boy directors who end up having a decent streak.  Pearly-toothed ingenues who develop a diva side.  Claw-and-scramble producers who recognize when they’ve let the pressures of the business turn them from the human side of art.  SMASH manages to blend Broadway’s best and worst elements in a way that has you rooting for characters you hated last week and vice-versa.  THAT’s good writing.  It doesn’t matter that SMASH isn’t a book--no matter what the format, writers can learn from good writing.  Muse is a cross-over beast.

What about you?  What have you watched/heard/read recently that pricked up the ears of your muse?  Why?

Thanks, Allie!
I need to watch better television! LOL!

By the way, Allie has a new release this month from Harlequin's Love Inspired line!

Homefront Hero
Love Inspired Historical
May 2012
Back cover copy:
Dashing and valiantly wounded, Captain John Gallows could have stepped straight out of an army recruitment poster. Leanne Sample can't help being impressed—although the lovely Red Cross nurse tries to hide it. She knows better than to get attached to the daring captain who is only home to heal and help rally support for the war's final push. As soon as he's well enough, he'll rush back to Europe, back to war—and far away from South Carolina and Leanne. But when an epidemic strikes close to home, John comes to realize what it truly means to be a hero—Leanne's hero.

Allie is very generous to offer up a giveaway of her new Harlequin Love Inspired romance HOMEFRONT HERO to some lucky commenter. Contest runs from now until Thursday night 11:59PM (EST). I will announce the winner on my blog this Friday!

Good luck!


Shelley Munro said...

Jennifer - fast draft is an excellent workshop. Enjoy!

Allie - I totally agree about watching TV and analyzing the storytelling, although I don't think it necessarily needs to be good TV. Sometimes I learn just as much from watching something that is predictable. Good luck with your new release!

Jessica R. Patch said...

I'm a SMASH watcher too! A couple of great shows I watch closely are Vampire Diaries and Fairly Legal!

Scarlet Wilson said...

Haven't seen SMASH or Mad Men, but have heard the hype. Absolutely love Castle and Sherlock, think they have modernised it in a fabulous way, Benedict Cumberbatch is just gorgeous!

Jennifer Shirk said...

I feel out of the loop. I need to watch more TV!!

Ayda Recknagel said...

I'm recently hooked on Downton Abbey. Now I want to know all about the time period, maybe as future reference for a historical some day...?

Allie Pleiter said...

Shelley, I never thought about learning from a predictable show...good point! Jessica, glad you enjoy SMASH. Scarlet, I think this season's episodes of SHERLOCK are even better than last season's, don't you? They've developed the layers of the characters so nicely. I don't know about Cumberbatch being a hottie, but he has the best name in showbiz as far as I'm concerned :). Ayda, lots of people asked me if I started writing HOMEFRONT HERO as a result of DOWNTOWN ABBEY, but the truth is my manuscript was finished before the show started. I do love how it's generated interest in the WWI era, though.

lorrainenelson said...

Hi, Allie! Nice article. Never thought of TV that way before. I'm with Jennifer, need to watch more. lol As it is, the only time I seem to turn it on lately is when the grandkids are here. :) Do cartoons count?

I do enjoy the CSI shows, The Mentalist, House, and Numbers on occasion.

Congratulations and best of luck on your new release.

Karen Lange said...

Allie's book sounds great! Thanks for the info and intro. :)

Hope you enjoy the class!

Happy Monday,

Bossy Betty said...

Have a great workshop!

I liked this advice! I am off to watch more (better) TV!

Old Kitty said...

Hi Jennifer, hi Allie!!

I watch Frasier and Cheers and Golden Girls ad infinitum not only because of the quality of the writing but of how I feel I know these characters like old friends! It's the kind of rapport I hope I get with my future readers!

Good luck with the most romantic Home Front Hero! Take care

John said...

This is a very beautiful and interesting series of pictures, i enjoyed every picture, it has great detail in it, thanks for sharing the artistic work, i appreciate your work!

GED Online

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

I love the concept of "the muse being a cross-over beast." Well said. The TV show I'm finding most intriguing these days is "Scandal", which is (too soon!) having its season finale this Thursday. (I think.) Excellent writing and unexpected twists on that show.

Good luck with the new release!

Cherie Reich said...

I completely agree about writers watching TV. There's so much about characters and storyline that can help writers by watching TV. Congrats for your newest release, Allie!

Susanne Drazic said...

Hi Jennifer! Enjoy your workshop. It sounds interesting.

Nice to meet you, Allie!

Nas said...

Hi Allie! Hello Jennifer!

Congratulations on the release of Homefront Hero, Allie.

I love watching Castle, CSIS series, and Private Practice, Grey's Anatomy.

Jennifer, enjoy the workshop but come back with notes to share please!

Liz @ A Nut in a Nutshell said...

You don't need to enter me in the giveaway, and now I have to ashamedly admit that all I watch is reality tv. lol

Allie Pleiter said...

Lorraine, I watched The Mentalist for a while, too, but lost interest. He was the visual basis for a character in one of my books--handsome guy.
Betty, yes the trick is not to watch more, but better TV.
Kitty, I do hope my characters become old friends of my readers, especially in the series. We want to love them.
Susan, thanks for the bit about my "crossover beast." :)
Everyone, it's fun to hear which TV series catch your writer's eye.

marybelle said...

I have not been watching a lot of television lately. I never miss THE BIG BANG THEORY though. It's such a sheer viewing pleasure. Witty & clever & extremely funny.


Joanna Aislinn said...

Hi Allie and Jennifer--

Glad I found you--and thoroughly agree with this (though I don't do it enough). Great ideas for how to put plots, etc together. Inspiration comes from so many places. Thanks!

Angela Cothran said...

I'll grab any excuse to watch more TV :) TV shows are great teachers in concise characterization and how to do a chapter break right.

MJFredrick said...

Justified is my hands-down favorite for dialogue and relationships. AWESOME show.

Miss. Lucinda Fountain said...

One can learn a lot about life through watching and observing others. Thank you so much for a really insightful book review and a fantastic giveaway, that i am adding to my to-read list on Goodreads. x

Linda Kage said...

Hi Allie! Congrats on your new release and it's nice to meet you. I've become addicted to Once Upon a Time and Pretty Little Liars on TV. Their story arcs keep me anxious for the next episode. There have been a few character inconsistencies I've noticed but the overall plot keeps me coming back!

My husband is like you, he ALWAYS knows what's going to happen next!! LOL!

Elizabeth Varadan aka Mrs. Seraphina said...

Congratulations on your book, Allie. And Jennifer, hope the workshop lived up to your expectations. I agree good story is good story, whether on the page or onscreen. I've been hooked on Downton Abbey. I love the multiple plot lines and I love all things Edwardian or Victorian. But what I especially like about that series is the character development and the fact that you are always surprised by what comes next.

Stacy Henrie said...

I love to see good storytelling in TV and movies. Congrats on your book, Allie! I think the time period around WWI is fascinating. Definitely sounds like something I'd enjoy!

Becky Doughty said...

A movie-watcher (no TV) but always on the look-out for humor in drama/pain. I loved The Avengers because of that!

Allie, your book looks wonderful - I'd love a copy!