I’m a very visual learner. I will admit that right here and now. Never is that more apparent than when watching a movie or a television show gives me insight into my writing, and into writing in general.
Yesterday I talked about my binge on season 1 of “Haven.” Well, aside from that special feature where I realized some things about my writing, about how I’m too connected and am letting my work control me too much at times, I got some great great insights into characterization.
I need to start doing this sort of binge to help with dialogue and stuff, too, methinks. Anyway.
There’s this character on the show. He’s your typical bad boy character. But really not so much. And one thing that I found myself continually doing, and I do this with a couple of my most favorite shows, was analyzing his character. Those rare times where I had to tear myself away from the DVDs because real life was calling, this character was in my head. And I was dissecting him, figuratively speaking.
Sometimes I find myself analyzing characters like this if I’m talking about the latest episode with someone else who is also a fan of that show. But even then it’s hard to remember little nuances, to see patterns.
Watching 13 episodes of a show, almost entirely back to back, really makes those patterns stand out. And you start to see a character’s tell, that indication that there’s something just under the surface that’s really influencing all their decisions. Or the thing that shows you the character is falling in love with another one, even if no one sees it. Just little things.
Watching that many episodes in a row is almost like reading a book. Every episode is a chapter, and at the end of a season, you get the climax that both concludes that book’s arc and sets up the arc for the next in the series. (And sometimes it doesn’t set up the external arc, it sets up an internal arc for one or more characters.)