Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Writing lessons I've learned from American Idol

There are few things on TV these days that I absolutely can't miss. Most of them have already had their season finales(Bones--which threw me for a loop; House--whose writers did an awesome job with the first part of the two part finale. Who would have ever thought a fly in the oinment hanging from a necklace would lead to Amber's demise?)

But if any show has taught me about writing, it's American Idol.

First, how many times have we heard Simon talk about the contests being good singers, but forgettable? I thought about that a lot as I worked on my latest manuscript. As writers, we can be good, even great at stringing words together but if the passages we write are forgettable, if they can't invoke emotions, what good are they? It's one of the things I've found myself working on--making sure who ever reads my stuff FEEL it along with my characters. Or our words become forgettable.

Then all the judges(expect maybe Paula who doesn't seem there half the time) have talked about picking the wrong song. I understood that--for years, I've been trying to write everything(hen lit, suspense, simple romance) when my heart has always been in historical fiction. It's what I read and what seems to flow from my pen the most. Does that mean we shouldn't stretch ourselves? No! but understand your strengths and use them to your advantage.

And last but not least, I've learned that just because you don't win, doesn't mean you're not a winner. Look at Clay Akins, Chris Daughtery, Kellie Pickler--none of them won the big prize but went on to have successful careers in music. Why? Because they kept plugging at it, never giving up.

Good lessons from a reality show.

1 comment:

Elizabeth Ludwig said...

This is a great analogy, Patty. I don't watch American Idol often (TV of any kind, really, unless it's sports) but I've seen it enough to understand exactly what you're talking about.

Nice post!