Monday, June 10, 2019

Learning How to Move Plot Along from TV Shows

One of my biggest problems with fiction writing has always been the plot. I have no problem creating characters and putting them in certain situations, but I often have trouble raising the stakes from there. Or I have trouble getting them out of problems I've created for them.

I've been reading less lately, which is not the best thing to admit on a book blog, but I'm happy to announce the shows I've been binging on Netflix has great plots that move right along and keep me hooked (hence the binging).

First up was Dead to Me on Netflix, at the recommendation of some coworkers. The concept was compelling enough, but the secrets revealed towards the end of each episode made for perfect cliffhangers. I know cliffhangers are necessary for shows, especially season finales, and sometimes for book chapters. But cliffhangers can be well done, or they can be so overly dramatic that, when they're resolved, you feel like you were duped. Like when the resolution turns out to not be a major plot point, but just a fake-out. And I think there were one or two of those in this show, but overall I felt like the use of suspense and slowly letting the viewer learn secrets was perfectly done. The season finale was also a nice balance of suspense, but believable events.

I recently saw that there will be a second season, though no date has been set yet. I'm eager to see what happens - and if you haven't seen the show yet, you have time to catch up before anything new is out!

After finishing Dead to Me and wanting more, More, MORE!, I turned to Good Girls.

Season one of this show is on Netflix, and I recommend you watch it... but try to have a way to watch season two, because you'll be hooked and wanting more! I was able to watch a few episodes of season two through a friend's on demand account, but now I need more! The last few episodes of season two are on Hulu, but I haven't been able to find 1-8 on any streaming service.

Viewing difficulties aside, this show is amazing. It's a little more over the top to me - it's somewhat realistic, but three women planning a major robbery and getting away with it (to the point I've seen, anyway), is a little tough for me to believe just because there were so many witnesses and secrets coming out. Once the gang gets involved, things get a little more unbelievable for me, but I love the show so much I'm more than happy to suspend my disbelief and escape into their crazy world for a binge.

I love the balance of humor, crime, and mystery, which makes me think of Sue Grafton's Kinsey Milhone series or the early books in Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series. I like serious dramas sometimes, but the humor in Good Girls is perfectly timed and dry, and always elicits a genuine laugh from me. I love humor and comedy, period, and have typically attempted to use it in my own writing, but felt like it was hard to pick up on unless someone shared my sense of humor. This show helps me see that it's always worth adding humor, and if someone gets it, they get it. If not, it's just over their heads - it doesn't detract from anything if it's well done.

Both of these shows have been teaching me a lot about what a good plot is made up of, and how to create one without going over the top into unbelievable territory, or being underwhelming with a slow moving story. And while reading definitely teaches me all of these things, too, I love watching quality shows that help me become a better writer when I'm not in a reading mood.

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