Yes. I’m writing about reality TV. No, I’m not doing it ironically. I admit it, there is some “reality” television I honestly enjoy, and most of it involves “housewives” who are hurling things at one another, whether insults or beverages.
There is probably not one person left on the planet who thinks everything that happens on reality television is real. Well, maybe one, but Great Aunt Tillimeade is getting on in years and why deprive her of her one joy in life? (Disclaimer: Great Aunt Tillimeade, like many of the “storylines” on reality shows, is entirely fictional, poor dear). Like everything in media, reality television has its writers.
Real reality is boring. Imagine a reality show about my life. There would be endless footage of me staring at the cursor on the screen, giving up, turning on the television, and going back to the cursor. Riveting stuff.
That’s why those shows don’t do that. Instead they take what is most compelling, most interesting, most shocking, and put it together in a way that feels like a story. And it’s an excellent tip when you’re writing.
It’s easy when you are creating a world out of nothing to think that everything about that world and what happens in it is fascinating. Much in the way that the stars of reality TV feel that they are fascinating enough to justify their camera-toting escorts.
The reason the shows engage viewers is that they edit out the sameness of life, the day-to-day bits. Everything that isn’t relevant to tell the story.
See where I’m going with this?
When you write, no one wants to see the grocery shopping, unless the store is being robbed and your character is held hostage. If it’s really only to get the milk, and nothing relating to the larger story happens — even at a character level — aside from getting the milk, it won’t be all that interesting.
Show what you need to show to tell the story. That’s what keeps reality viewers coming back for more, and will always hook a reader.
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3 thoughts on “Learn to Write from Reality TV”
Well, unless you fancy yourself as the next Proust or James Joyce, in which case you ought to be on reality TV yourself.
Wasn’t Proust in bed for a decade? That would really be great TV 😉
Imagine the tension … will he dunk that madeleine or not? When will he get up????