Thursday, August 6, 2009

If Writing Were A Reality TV Show

It would be The Amazing Race. Totally.

Scott posted about giving your characters problems to solve in the middle of the novel. He has some reasons why, so you should just go read his post from last week.

Anyway, immediately my brain went to reality TV. I mean, whose doesn't. *snarf*

And writing.

So writing + reality TV = The Amazing Race!

This is how I make things connect in my brain. I told you it was a scary place to be.

Anyway, have you seen the show? No? It's pairs of people (married couples, sisters, engagees, fathers/sons, whatever) and they race from place to place around the globe. If they arrive last, they're out.

But it's not that simple. Along the way, they have to complete tasks. There are two main types of tasks: Roadblocks and Detours. In a Roadblock, only one person on the team can complete the task (like climb to the top of a building and jump off). In a Detour, both members have to do something (like build a desk or find a slip of paper inside a pie) together.

Anyway, so how does this relate to writing? I'm getting there.

We all know the basis of fiction is conflict. We want to keep the reader turning pages. So we have to set up the roadblocks--the problems--we need our characters to solve. Things that will help their character arc, help them grow and change into the kind of people they need to be at the end of the book.

In The Amazing Race, roadblocks are done by one member of the team, and here's the kicker: they don't know what the task is before they choose which person will do it. So if you're deathly afraid of heights (which I am), and you have to jump off a cliff...yeah, it makes them grow and change. Makes them solve problems.

So writers tackle the roadblocks themselves. We do the actual writing ourselves (unless you happen to be the luckiest person in the world and have a kewl sister to write with. I'm looking at you guys, Lisa and Laura).

Then we finish the book. And we turn to our Detours, aka Beta Readers. They tell us where we got off track, where we need more gasoline, where we need to hit the brakes, all of it. We get to work with another person to build something beautiful.

So writing is totally like The Amazing Race! Totally! And it feels good with every leg you manage to complete. Writing THE END. Writing the query. Sending the query. Getting a request. Sending material. Even waiting.

Writing really is The Amazing Race.

What do you guys think? Isn't this an amazing journey we're all on together?


Abby said...

It's definitely a roller coaster, and if a TV producer could truly tap into the emotional ups and downs of this process, it would make an awesome show!

Seems like so many have been going at this much longer I have, but I'm enjoying the process so far. And I love all the friends I've made along the way. It's definitely better being able to share the happiest moments with awesome people and lean on each other when we're having hard times. :D Great post, Elana!

Scott said...

The Amazing Adventure! I love it, I hate it, I love it, I hate it . . . oh, time to play Bejeweled Blitz . . . back to writing, insert LIFE here, write, live, feed the cats, scoop the litter box, go to work . . .

I wouldn't trade this writing life for anything.

Great post. And, your mind is a very, very scary place.

BTW - I'm probably the only one out there, but I don't really watch reality TV. I do love me some Project Runway, but that's about it!


Anonymous said...

Love it...I think you may have something here. When we form our amusement park about this stuff, we sould totally include something related to this *wink*

JStantonChandler said...

Hi Elana! What a brilliant analogy! I think right now, I'm being asked to climb Mt. Everest and then snowboard back to base camp. There's definitely air time on the telly for that!

Here's to the journey!

Novice Writer Anonymous said...

I love how your brain works! I've never seen the show, but it does sound like a completely apropos analogy. (10 points for cool alliteration!)

Suzanne said...

I love the show and the analogy is great! I feel optimism in the air! Nice!

B.J. Anderson said...

Great analogy! I have watched the show a couple of times, and it's wild! Great post.

Jenna said...

It is amazing. :) I've never seen the show, but it sounds about right to describe writing. :)

Tess said...

wow, Scott..I thought I was the only one who didn't watch reality tv.

Great analogy...and, really, writing is even BETTER cuz your success is not dependent on another's failure. that's the best part about writing :)

Icy Roses said...

Sadly, reality TV is not my thing. But, your analogies are still the best thing since wireless internet.

Sharla said...

And then when the book is done, it becomes like The Bachelor...where we are all trying to woo an agent and say "pick me! pick me!"

Or maybe it's more like Hell's Kitchen...

ElanaJ said...

Sharla, OMGosh! You're so right! It is like The Bachelor after that! That is too funny.

Icy Roses, you make me smile.

Tess, you're right about success. Thanks for always making me get my priorities right.

Scott, with all your BB and stuff, I can't believe you're not a reality TV junkie. I so would've pegged you for one.

NWA, you get 10 more points for using a word I had to look up! LOL.

Jen, Mt. Everest you say? I'm like five feet from the summit and out of oxygen. Come on up!

Christine, this is so going into the amusement park. Making a note...done.

Lisa and Laura said...

Ha! Laura and I would suck at the Amazing Race! We'd constantly be fighting about who would have to do the road blocks and we can't read a map.

Yeah, we'll stick with the writing, although if you decide to create a reality tv show where you have to write your way through out!

Strange Fiction said...

Great post! Definitely a first class analogy.

Sounds like a fun show. I haven't had cable since the 90's but if it comes out on video I'll check it out :)

Shelli said...

Im with you! you are so rigth on!

Kate Karyus Quinn said...

LOL, excellent analogy! I used to love The Race, but stopped winning because I got tired of the most annoying couple always winning the darn thing.

Hilabeans said...

Awesome. Can I be on your team?


Let's hope I don't come in last.

Great analogy!


Tami said...

You're brilliant! love your analogy

Ryan said...

I'm not big on the reality tv scene, but I get the analogy. It's like building a house isn't it;)

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