Learning from other sources...

Last week was the annual SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) conference in LA. I was fortunate to go last year - had to miss this one - and I'm sorry I did. Their line-up of keynotes was kid lit at it's best - including, Henry Winkler (OMG! The Fonz!), Judy Blume (to die for!), Richard Peck, Laurie Halse Anderson, and Gary Paulsen among them!!! I mean, it was a smorgasbord of who's who and who's unbelievably amazing!!! Okay - I will stop swooning & get to the point.

I followed the conference via Tweets and got a definite flavor for it. One thing (among many) that stuck with me was Gary Paulsen saying, "Kill TV."

Now, Gary & I are, more or less, on the same page about TV. I turned off my cable a couple of years ago & gave away the (antiquated) TV set I had. But, there is one show I watch (online) because it's stellar story-tellling, and that is Masterpiece Mystery.  (Okay, I love Alan Cumming, too!)

This past weekend, I indulged in the 1st three (and hopefully not the last!) episodes of ZEN, starring Rufus Sewell. (What is not to love about this man?!!!)

Anyway... (must stop staring at Rufus Sewell *fans self*...) Okay, the point is - Zen (based on the novels by the late British writer, Michael Dibdin) had a bit to teach about telling a good story!

I am a huge fan of good mysteries - but they have to have some depth and can't be one-dimensional. Zen did not disappoint! There were multiple levels to the crime(s), a catch-22-like predicament for our hero, romance (which, by the way, had some of the sexiest clothes-on scenes ever), and a good dose of humor. Plus, some honestly heart-pounding suspense that had me on the edge of my seat!

I intend to track down the books & read them (since BBC isn't committing to any more in the series - fingers are crossed that ITV, or someone else, picks it up) because the story-telling was so good and I've already learned a bit more about doing it well by watching these three episodes. (Which I highly recommend you do - they're online through most of August on the PBS website linked above.)

Back to Paulsen's statement about killing one's TV. A good idea, for sure - but, I suggest that if yours is still alive, and you are watching anything - be sure it's good and don't hesitate to glean what you can that will enrich your own ability to tell a tale!

So, peeps, from what other sources do you like to gather information on telling a good story?


Knighton said...

I would watch Rufus Sewell in anything! That man exudes sexiness without even trying. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Your post alludes to what I think is the biggest problem with TV in its current form. There is nothing wrong with TV as a media form if you consume specific content deliberately. The more common use for TV is to the media equivalent of a bag of open potato chips that one continues to consume vacuously just because it is there and not because the perceive any value in the product.

Adam Meyers said...

While I love books to death and plan to write many of them, TV has got to be my favorite medium of storytelling. The ability to explore ideas, characters and stories through such a long medium sounds amazing to me, and I can only hope I'll do it someday.

Yeah there's some that fail that regard and go on much longer than the story should, but still I think TV writing is something a lot more people should explore, especially with the current trends. More and more fantasy authors are being called on to write for TV and film, and more and more TV shows are branching out into books. Not to mention how often video games are employing authors to help with their stories!

So yeah, the more I learn the more I think we're moving from being writers to being story architects, people who build something that can and should exist in any medium. I can only hope to join that select group of storytellers who's words breath life into every medium.

Sally said...

I have the Zen series on my DVR ready to hit play. I didn't know it was based on a book. Love a good mystery and Rufus too!