Do you have a Netflix obsession?
I do. I have a bad habit of consuming copious amounts of Netflix shows, sometimes long into the night when I should be sleeping.
But really, how can anyone say no to this face.
Of course, I like to think that, not only am I being entertained, I am gaining inspiration and learning about ways to better my writing.
Creating Interesting Characters:
I just started watching a new show on Netflix called iZombie. They only have the first season, but I became hooked on the first episode. While the storyline is different and interesting, what really caught my attention was the characters.
Liv Moore, the protagonist, is a zombie. You’re probably thinking, how can a zombie be the main character? But that is what makes her character so interesting. To stay mostly living, Liv has to eat brains on a regular basis, so she works in a morgue and lives off the brains of the dead who come across her table.
The writers of the show could have left it at that, but they didn’t. On top of living a “human” life, she also gets flashes of the dead person’s last moments alive and a few personality traits that don’t always end too well for her.
To create a story that people want to read, the characters should be compelling and relatable. Liv is relatable, despite being a zombie, because she deals with situations that most people can relate to: breaking up with a significant other, living with a roommate, loosing those close to her, etc.
Liv is a compelling character. The writers took what everyone knows about zombies and flipped the norm around to make Liv unique. Because of the changes, I couldn’t stop watching, and I really started to care what happened to Liv and her friends.
Plotting and Foreshadowing:
When an idea for a story comes to me, I don’t always know which way the story will head. Plotting out the when, where, what, and why can be daunting. But I have gained a lot insight into what makes a certain story interesting from my many nights watching Doctor Who.
Foreshadowing. The entire show is littered with tiny pieces of information that seem inconsequential at the time but later turn out to be very important for the story. In Doctor Who, the one that stands out the most is the story of River Song.
River and the Doctor meet on and off throughout the new series, but, sadly, they do so in opposite timelines. For example, the last time River sees the Doctor is the first time he ever meets her.
It’s a very bittersweet moment, but the audience doesn’t really understand the impact of the episode because they are also just meeting River, and they don’t know how important she is to the future Doctor. (They learn later how meaningful this episode is.)
The little bits of detail that is scattered throughout the episodes add a depth to the story that otherwise would cause the plot to fall flat. Of course, you don’t have to have a complicated amount of foreshadowing like that found in Doctor Who.
Dealing with time travel calls for a certain panache that pulls the story together.
Foreshadowing definitely helps though, and I try to find ways to connect the ends of my stories to their beginnings. As a reader, I am amazed and love the story even more when I find a moment in the prose that had been foreshadowed. It feels like the author thought everything through and didn’t just throw the story together in a moment of chaos. (How I feel most of the time.)
Inspiration or Just Wishful Thinking?
I am a big fan of Netflix. Having, most any, show at my fingertips is great, and I’d like to think that the time I spend “researching” is helping me become better at creating worlds that others want to read about.
So, tell me, what are your favorite shows, and how have they helped you on your way through the murky, yet exhilarating, moments of your writing career?