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Lessons I Learn While Watching Television Shows

By Kariss Lynch

I am an avid reader. I am also an avid television consumer. Why? Because ultimately I am a story lover. I still firmly believe that the book is ALWAYS better than the movie, but there are times when I love to shut the book, turn off the computer, and watch a story unfold on screen.

My roommate and I love to watch television shows. There have been many nights we will binge watch shows on Netflix into the early morning hours and then crawl out of bed with blood shot eyes and coffee in fist for work the next morning (by the way, it’s worth it). I learn from reading, but I also learn from watching, particularly my favorite television series. Here are a few things I have picked up that help me when crafting a story:

Creating a Chapter
I began as a short story writer before migrating to novels. I see each TV episode as a chapter to a much larger story. Each episode has a story arc – beginning, middle, and end. Chapters do, too. Each week, I love to track how the writers add to the story while highlighting whatever is happening that week as an important piece to the entire puzzle.

Building a Character
When I binge watch a series, it is easy to see character growth. The Vampire Diaries is one of my favorites (no judging please!). In season 1, Damon Salvatore is a bloodthirsty vampire who doesn’t care who he hurts or what he has to do to achieve his goals. By season 6, he is a fierce protector, with a troubled conscience, who loves his girlfriend to distraction and works to steer his friends to the straight and narrow when they go off the rails. His character growth is incredible. I just finished up my third book in my Heart of a Warrior series, and growth like this is what I hope to achieve with my characters.

Revealing Surprises
Television shows are excellent examples of cliffhangers. They know when to reveal surprises, when to hold them, and when to drop a bomb that leaves the viewer reeling for a week (I have a love/hate relationship with those little surprises). I watch these to learn how to leave chapters hanging or leave books in a series with enough questions to drive into the next book. We don’t always need to tie neat bows for our readers. We want to keep them up late at night wondering what happens next.

Crafting Relationships
We were created for relationships with others and with the Lord. In my books, I want to capture a strong sense of relationships. I watch Twitter feeds and fan blogs to see how viewers react to certain television romances, families, and friendships in shows and then try to emulate that bond in my writing. Recently finished Parenthood is an excellent example of an imperfect, large, loud family who was much loved by viewers.

There’s value in studying story in all its forms. Next time you need a little inspiration and a slight change of pace, try picking a television show and watching a few episodes. You never know what writing secrets you will discover.

Shadowed_AUG 1 (1)Kariss Lynch writes contemporary fiction about characters with big dreams, hearts for adventure, and enduring hope. Shadowed, her second book in the Heart of a Warrior series, released in March. In her free time, she spends time with loved ones, explores the great outdoors, and tries not to plot five stories at once. Connect with her at karisslynch.com.

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