[Dee DeTarsio (The Scent of Jade [Kindle Edition]), a television writer and formerly a news producer, grew up loving the visual home entertainment medium. In today’s guest post she explains how what she watches/sees on TV influences her novel storytelling.]
Though some in my family would place me on Team Eeyore, I believe in magic, happily-ever-after and the 7th sense: hope. My favorite TV shows used to be reruns of Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie, up to and including Sabrina, The Teenage Witch, and, if you haven’t discovered The Wizards of Waverly Place yet, two wands up.
I also love the magic known as HGTV–a new kitchen in 30 minutes? Voila! And as for the fairy-tale ending possibilities of House Hunters, International…A Votre Sante! (The enchantment just doesn’t get much better than watching someone with a $1.2 million budget discover a crumbling 17th century 500-square-foot three-story-house with room for only a single-sized bed, kitschy rooster fabric curtained kitchen cupboards, that does include a wee washing machine in the bathroom, with nary a dryer in site.)
I love TV and it loves me! While I concede that I will probably never fulfill my childhood dream of writing for a soap opera, (I ended up as a news producer instead… ‘If it’s news to you, it’s news to us’…) I am eternally inspired by what I watch.
Don’t get me wrong–books offer way more satisfaction than television–isn’t reading the 8th sense? (If you’ve noticed, I’ve not mentioned the 6th sense–that’s because, spoiler alert, try as I might, and I do, everyone else on the planet has more ESP than me.)
My debut eNovel, THE SCENT OF JADE, grew out of a suggestion by my husband who said “women sure do think a lot.” I may not have spoken to him for a day or so after that, but the result was a hybrid chick-lit action/adventure novel that follows a woman lost in the Costa Rican rainforest with an ancient idol that may hold secrets to global warming. There are no car chases, explosions or dead guys, however, the protagonist does get shot at, there are no strappy sandals, and there is SEX. I issue an invitation to all the XYs out there to come on over to the pink side–you don’t know what you’re missing.
“It ain’t art unless it makes the air,” was a favorite quote of an executive producer I worked with. His underlying message was that while we have the responsibility to polish our “art” and make it the best it can be, does it exist without being viewed…or in writers’ cases, read? That challenge helped focus my efforts.
From One Live To Live to the Amazing Race, brilliant cliffhangers keep us intrigued and entertained…just like fiction. Even in reality shows like Survivor, producers are the authors of suspense: amping up the conflict and drama. Storytelling a vision invites the audience, through whatever medium, to stay tuned for the good stuff…coming up. I don’t always succeed but I try to keep that in mind during scenes and chapter endings. Living through my character’s quest, I really don’t want to give readers a place to stop. Stieg Larsson can pull off the ‘ol ‘He made a cup of coffee and went to bed.’ chapter endings, but I can’t! I’m a Virgo–it’s against my nature to plow right through a scene and stop at an awkward spot, but sometimes, that’s just what the story needs.
“Oh, yeah, I surprised him alright…” which I’m pretty sure I stole right off of One Life to Live, hopefully reads as a better page turner than “I’ll think about it in the morning.”
Watching eye-spinning amounts of TV is just another venue for receiving hints from the universe. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away two copies of Eileen Cook’s The Education of Hailey Kendrick in a random drawing of comments left only on this specific post, Eileen Cook and The Education of Hailey Kendrick. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is Wednesday, January 5, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. EST with the winners to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return Thursday to see if you’re a winner.