Being in a writers’ group is great because:
- You get feedback on your writing.
- You practice your editing skills by giving feedback on other people’s writing.
- You get book and article recommendations from folks as serious about writing as you are.
Today I’m sharing “Six Things Prose Writers Can Learn From Television” by Matt Debenham. There’s gold in here, readers. Six elements of good television writing that can easily be transferred into a mini-workshop on prose writing. Take a look and see what you can apply to your current WIP.
I tend to get stuck on Item 2. My characters, especially my protagonists, start out really nice and well adjusted. I have to work to mess them up. A number of the writers I’m working with now seem to have the same problem. None of us wants to write about characters we’ve all seen before, some textbook psychology that we can all see playing out from page one. We want to create relatable characters, put them in challenging situations, and then have them behave unexpectedly. But at the same time, there must be a believable (not necessarily logical) motivation behind every action of every character for the writing to work.
Debenham says it well,
Active doesn’t mean always happy, or manic, or illogical. Active means a character who wants something, who does things relating to those wants — oftentimes when that is exactly the wrong thing for them to do.
That’s where tension, conflict, and just plain good writing come from.
Which piece do you have the most trouble with? How are you working through it?