Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

How TV Can Make You a Better Writer

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We all know you should read books in the genre you write in. But what about watching TV shows in the genre you write in? For example, if you write adult fiction, what better way to learn how to craft dramatic story arcs than watching Mad Men or Breaking Bad or (my personal favourite) The Good Wife?

Since I write young adult, I love watching teen shows. Some of them are cheesy and only function as guilty pleasures. Others are really well crafted and inspire me to write better. My two favourites for plotting are The Vampire Diaries and Pretty Little Liars. Sometimes these shows teach you what is too crazy or melodramatic, but other times, they show you what compelling, surprising storytelling is.

What I've always loved about the medium of television is that you can spend lots of time with characters you love. Movies just aren't the same -- after two hours, it's over. So it makes sense to look to TV for how to plot a story arc and create compelling characters, as character and plot are the two main elements of any story, whether a TV show or a novel.

So you no longer have to feel guilty about your TV addiction! I don't feel guilty about mine, because I believe it helps me with my writing.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

Aya Tsintziras

Aya Tsintziras is the author of the YA novel Pretty Bones, which was selected for the Canadian Book Centre's Best Books for Kids and Teens in Spring 2012. She has a BA in Political Science from the University of Toronto and is currently pursuing a Masters of Journalism at Ryerson University.

Go to Aya Tsintziras’s Author Page